Friday, July 16, 2010

My Classes are Sweet As

16 July 2010: HAPPY EARLY BIRTHDAY DADDYO!!! (It's already your birthday here, so you can start celebrating!)

This was our first week of classes. However, since we didn’t have to go to tutorials and my introductory lectures tended to get out early, I only ended up with about 4.5 hours total. I took the downtime to wander around campus, buy books, and catch some sun (and good thing, since today it is grey and raining… finally a bit of this “winter” weather they keep warning us about). I wound up running into quite a few people while out and about on campus; seems like everyone else had more time this week than they knew what to do with. As it is the first week of the new semester after the winter break/“holiday,” they had music, some booths, and mini events on the Village Green (the central area of campus, near the lake and student union, with various shops and eateries).

Also, during this Re-Orientation (Re-O) week, as part of the “B Semester Fiesta” the bars in town have themed parties and deals each night (Fluoro/Florescent night, a Pirate Party, Superheroes dress-up night etc.). I didn’t end up attending any because of morning lectures and the rational that I would save my money and energy for Thursday/Saturday (the best nights to go out in Hamilton), BUT I did go to the free hypnotist show on Tuesday night. Similar to the others I’ve seen, the antics were hilarious, especially since Kiwi humor is even more crass and uncensored – I think I’ll leave that up the imagination…

Once things are in full swing next week, with classes and tutorials/workshops Monday through Thursday I should have about 11 hours, plus quite a bit of outside reading and group work for my most involved class: Public Relations Campaigns. My Public Relations Cases class is very small, only 8 or so students (all girls, hah as PR classes tend to be), which should be good for discussions, and hopefully will prove interesting, seeing as the contemporary cases we’ll analyze center on New Zealand current events. We talked briefly about a media crisis involving New Zealand’s rugby world cup ambassador (for next year's cup that will take place here in NZ during October 2011). He is an ex-All Blacks player who made some blatantly racist and sexist comments, leading to his “resignation,” and a problem for the PR professionals at the NRL (National Rugby League) who must try to mitigate this tainted image of their players and revered national pastime.

I hadn’t really considered that most New Zealand celebrities are rugby players and, therefore, they have been and will be, the center of the majority of NZ media scandals. After this class, I changed my internet home page to the New Zealand Herald – I definitely need to do some background reading on rugby and other key players in NZ’s media, so I’m not completely out of the loop. There were several times when the nice girl next to me, or the amiable professor, explained a reference that to a Kiwi would be common knowledge, but for me produced a puzzled expression, instead of instant recognition.

My Political Science class is somewhat bigger and will focus specifically on the national security facet of international relations – what “security” entails and how it affects international issues, conflicts, and compromises. The professor has a thick, deep British-type accent, that does not fit his appearance and might make it a bit hard to understand and pay attention, but I find the topic interesting. There is another international student – a nice girl from Brazil who I met last week, in the class as well, so it’ll be nice to have a buddy.

Finally, I had my Public Relations Campaigns lecture on Thursday afternoon. It is a very large class, maybe 60 – 65 students. We will be broken into groups of five during our smaller tutorials, forming public relations agency teams, with whom we will work throughout the semester, crafting a full scale campaign for a real organization. After the end of the semester's campaign presentations, the top four teams go on to compete for the Chesterman Public Relations Campaign Award, presenting again for other Waikato students and the public in one of the main lecture halls on campus. The client is called Parent to Parent (Matua ki te Matua), an organization based in Hamilton that matches families with children with mental and physical disabilities and special needs, helping to form a support group for these parents and siblings.

We will begin in depth research after forming our groups to help select a specific target for our campaign. I am excited to try to develop a campaign with a creative angle to help this non-profit, which seems like an extremely worthwhile cause. We even get to visit the headquarters nearby and interview management, employees, and volunteers etc. This is the capstone/final course for Waikato’s Management Communications/Public Relations students, just as it will fill the requirement for my PR Campaigns capstone course at Chapman. I am looking forward to working with students who have developed a different perspective of PR and producing something that will enhance my portfolio and give me real experience when the job hunting begins… AH, I don’t even want to think about that yet! I still can’t believe this is my final year, half of which is spent halfway across the world.

More on classes later, as the semester continues!

Oh, I’ll also be doing some independent research and reading about the United Nations in preparation for my Model United Nations class when I return to Chapman in the spring. Before I left school, I spoke with Chapman’s Political Science department head and worked out a way for me to follow along with his fall syllabus for the Model UN class, reading the text, learning about UN protocol, and practicing how to write proposals, so that I can join the yearlong class halfway through in the spring and compete in the competition in New York over spring break. I can’t wait!

Earlier this week, when some of the campus clubs had booths set up on the Village Green, I spoke with some girls from the MCSA (Management Communication Student Association) and might attend some meetings. They are Waikato’s version of the PRSSA (Public Relations Student Association), that I’ve been semi-involved in at Chapman; hopefully I can meet other Waikato PR students! I can tell from vibes in my PR Campaigns class that, similar to how it is at home, most of the students know one another by the time they take this final class, having had classes together for the past 2-3 years.

Also, on Wednesday I donated blood! I'd never done it before (needles.. AH), but they had a blood drive this week in the gym and I figured this is as good a time as any AND a chance to give back to New Zealand! Apparently, I have verrry tiny veins, but the nurses were capable and it wasn't as bad as I thought. I even got to try some tasty New Zealand biscuits (cookies)afterward! Yum yumm

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