Last month communications students studying multimedia at UCBC had a unique opportunity. It was unique for university students of DRC, that is. Visiting teacher and photojournalist Anne Medley taught the class, Multimedia and Photojournalism. Over the course of three weeks, students learned how to photograph, conduct interviews, write and edit a script, and tell a story from their community. The students worked in teams of 3 to develop a proposal and put it into action. One group of students told the story of Beni’s only woman taxi/moto driver. Another group of students produced a piece on an ironworker. The metal workers who forge charcoal braziers and pans—the local cooking appliances—were subjects of other stories. There was a piece on the pushcart drivers.
|Students interview pushcart drivers|
So, why was this unique? Because education in DRC universities is completely didactic and theoretical. Students listen to their teachers read lectures, and copy those lectures verbatim. Students memorize the notes then quote directly back to the teacher on an exam. The first opportunity students have to practice what they learn or to see theory in action is if they have an internship experience at the end of their studies.
|Anne shares student work as Honoré translates|
Academic Dean Honoré Bunduki Kwany reminded the UCBC communications students how fortunate they were to have had this “hands-on” learning experience during chapel on Monday, June 4. Later that afternoon when I asked Honoré about his comments to the students, he confirmed, “Yes, journalism students in other universities never have a chance to photograph or develop pieces like this.” And then he told a story that one of UCBC’s communications teachers had shared.
Kaza, the teacher, was a communications student in one of DRC’s larger, national universities. His multimedia professor instructed the students how to film. He picked up a piece of notebook paper and formed a paper cylinder with it. Holding the cylinder to his eye, as if it were a telephoto lens, the professor explained, “When you use a camera, you hold it carefully up to your eye and look through it like this.” The professor slowly turned his head, scanning an imaginary scene before him. He continued, “You have to move slowly while your camera is running. You don’t want to move too fast.”
“And this is not unusual!” Honoré lamented. “What our students have here, at UCBC, to use cameras, to use recording equipment, to work on computers, is unique to DRC."
|Students share their experiences|
Yes, we're doing things differently here at UCBC, not just in communications, but in applied sciences, theology, and economics. As I write, for example, students in Wilfred Mushagalusa's Applied Informations class are creating databases. Students from DRC Realities worked with local community agencies last week to directly engage with their work. Yesterday, faculty, staff, and students planted trees on the UCBC campus. All of these experiences for learning, service, and work are unique in DRC's educational landscape. But they are distinctives that don't just make UCBC stand apart. They are distinctives that are cultivating the kind of ethical leadership and creative problem-solving that my Congolese sisters and brothers remind me is critical to DRC's present and future.