By Melissa Chea-Annan
During the course of my study year, I was privilege to have learned a lot. Though I might not have enough space to elaborate further, I am glad that my accomplishments were many. Of all the many courses I did in Journalism at the University of Maryland in College Park, my interest in reporting on children has increased to some extent, especially after completing a course on “Family and Children”.
That course, which was taught by Professor Julie Drizzin gave me the urge to focus and give more coverage to the children, especially those ones who have been abandoned or forgotten by their families and society.I am glad that I also did series of courses on ‘Advanced Leadership’ which has sharpened my skills and increased my ability to address situation in any form. I can boast that the knowledge I acquired from the program will go a long way with me. I was opportune to moderate a forum, make power point presentations to a class session and a larger audience. This was the first of its kind for me.
I have also acquired the skills of doing a professional video recording and as well as editing it too. During my training at the American Management Association (AMA) Seminar in Atlanta, Georgia, I was trained to manage people that would be entrusted in my care to lead and to also address my management in a manner that will encourage or motivate it to address the needs of the staff whenever they arise. I also learned various techniques of leadership that will further enable me to be a great leader who will make positive impacts in the media sector in Liberia as well as other future tasks that I may be given to me.
One good thing I admired and look forward to seeing in Liberia is the manner in which the American media conducted their free reporting without fear or threats. I am hoping to share my experience with the Liberian media and to ensure that we follow the trend of the American media in our coverage. Another thing I admired and learned from the American media is to ensure that every story that is being investigated must be published to the end and not left halfway.
The purpose of my trip to the USA was to advance myself in Communication and Journalism with focus on Leadership. My plan is to give back to my junior colleagues, especially female journalists those skills that would also enable them excel in the profession. The truth is, I didn’t know what was ahead of me neither did I know what I was going to do upon my arrival on my host campus.
Interestingly, I saw something completely different, something that will live with me for the rest of my life in my profession. The program afforded me the opportunity to learn a lot of great things from my colleagues from other countries as well as gave me the opportunity to share with my colleagues from around the world, my country’s culture, traditions, customs and other things they needed to know.
Reflecting back on my Humphrey year, I reckon I have learned critical leadership skills; communication skills, the importance of developing an inquisitive mind and developing emotional intelligence. During my Fellowship year, I transitioned from the constant doing and implementing mode to slowing down and reflecting. My role at Humphrey Fellowship Program allowed me to transition into this mode, which opened up room for new learning to take place. From my work place and my interaction with people from other cultures, I learned to appreciate the culture of open communication, which plays an important role in getting work done with efficiency with little bureaucracy. This strengthens team spirit among coworkers, and builds trust. I also learned that informal learning can take place in many forms, and one way of learning is through inquiring, asking questions without any inhibition whether the questions sound intelligent or not. I realize the power of questions and questioning not only as way of gathering knowledge orinformation but also as a means to facilitating positive communications between individuals, groups and more. I made a significant observation on the importance of being aware on owns and team members strengthen and weaknesses. I think developing emotional intelligence is perhaps the most important leadership and perhaps the starting point to successful leadership and management. Leaders who are aware of theirs and their surroundings plus and minuses are able to make a good match between demand and supply.
Reflecting on my experiences with Fellows within the Program, especially the ones I encountered in Davis, California during the pre-academic program and in College Park, Maryland, during the full year program, I learned to appreciate the values the Hubert Humphrey Fellowship Program teaches to the Fellows, tolerance, respect for diversity and accommodating different value systems. I often caught myself tolerating thoughts, ideas I wouldn’t have a year ago. Fellows in the fellowship program also gave me a peek into their countries and cultures without having to travel to over 20 countries. I can now say I have acquired the passport to global citizenship.
In the State of Maryland, I had a great time because the state gave me a taste of American experience; history, art, culture, entertainment and hospitality. Marylanders, as well as other Americans that I met in New York, Washington DC, Philadelphia and other parts of the United States showed me hospitality, generosity and helpfulness. I am grateful because throughout my stay in the USA, there was not a day I missed my way because some Americans were always there to help a total stranger whenever I asked them. The good thing is that when I was struggling to take a photo of myself at a historic area, someone would call out and say, “Do you want me to take a photo of you?’ I count myself a blessed child for the glorious opportunity. I will not feel happy if I didn’t say how grateful I am for encountering Lucinda Fleeson, my sweet Coordinator and Serap Rada, our energetic Deputy Coordinator of the program. They stood by my side all through the year and rendered me assistance whenever I called on them. This, in deed made my stay more pleasant.
In everything, we, as Christians have been required by the Bible to always give thanks. In so doing, Part VI will summarize and bring to conclusion this article, “My Humphrey Year in The United States of America.”