Culture Shock Story a project by Meri Collazos Solacultureshockstory@gmail.com

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Personal Academic Background

Research on Creativity and Intercultural Competence in WEB 2.0

During the MA in Intercultural Communication (UMBC) I started researching creativity and intercultural competence. The premise was that intercultural competence enhances creativity. Parallel to that research I investigate alternative modes of identity representation in WEB 2. Continuing this same research line I designed a research project to test some of the elements that give evidence of that. Some parts of the project will be currently displayed on an online site.

My experience with participatory media and new media started more than ten years ago when working on local media (radio and television) producing contents that involved local people, who could not easily find a voice in the mass media. I graduated from Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona with a degree in Audiovisual Communication in 2002. For that, my final project an interactive documentary called “Verd Sobre Blau” that worked as a collection of different voices talking about the relation within the landscape and their personal stories.

In 2001, I got a Grant to study in Finland in the Interactive Media Program in Tampere University. Studying in Finland gave me a chance to work in media projects in an inter-cultural environment for the first time in my life. Since then I have been working in many media projects related to community and education. My skills in editing software and new technologies, allowed me to do the work in video editing and post production setting. For that, I have been always connected to projects that relate to arts, culture and society. On that note, I have also directed TV magazines and documentary films in Spain both for public television and private institutions. That job allowed me to keep in touch with exceptionally creative people and various cross-cultural environments.

In 2009, I gained a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue a MA in Intercultural Communication at the University of Baltimore, Maryland County. During that period my research assistantship in the UMBC New Media Studio has allowed me to work in Digital Storytelling Workshops. Some of these workshops have been done in partnership with the Center of Digital Storytelling (www.storycenter.org), the worldwide-recognized founder of that practice. Many of those projects are engaged with very different types of community. For instance, last project I worked on was in partnership with the International Refugee Center . Participants were Bhutanese refugees living in Baltimore. Again, developing these media projects in those cross-cultural environments has been a real valuable experience that can encourage me to use DST as a useful tool as a researcher.

This entire project—www.cultureshockstory.com—started when I was taking an Independent Studies course in the New Media Department. Here, I explored some uses of Web 2.0 designed for Do-it- yourself (DIY) media projects by using WordPress, videoblogging and digital storytelling.

As a master’s student in Intercultural communication, I chose to focus on the topic of narratives about intercultural experiences from UMBC students. For that, I developed a multimedia site called “cultureshockstory.com” that collects around 15 stories from students who are exposed to mediatization—an account being captured and then edited into a various narrative designs. The concept of mediatization will be developed later in the research, you can download the full text in here. The term Web 2.0, coined by O’Reilly Media[1] in 2005, describes a collaborative, user centric content production website. This stresses the importance of “finding real people” on the website (Genevieve Bell, 2011) and can also exemplify the use of new media technologies to portray personal stories. Furthermore, Web2.0 has been increasingly applied to promote a new educational approach. At this point, cultureshockstory.com can also function as a “collaborative learning set” since participants has been working “together to solve problems, complete a task and create productive results” (MacGregor, 1992) and are part of the same learning community .


[1] http://oreilly.com/web2/archive/what-is-web-20.html

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About Culture Shock:

"Culture shock is the difficulty people have adjusting to a new culture that differs markedly from their own." (Wikipedia.org)

"Many of us are striving to produce a blend of all the cultures which seem today to be in clash with one another. No culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive". -Mahatma Gandi

"Culture is a mold in which we are all cast and it controls our daily lives in many in suspected ways...Culture hides more than it reveals, and strangely enough, what it hides, it hides most effectively from it's own participants" -Edward T. Hall

"America is a poem in our eyes" -Ralph Waldo Emerson

"No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow"-Lin Yutang