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FLEFF Intern Voices

The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view

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Posted by Liuqing Yang at 12:10AM   |  21 comments
Lucy at Central Park, New York City

Blog posting written by Lucy Yang, Journalism and Politics, ’14, FLEFF blogger, Puyang, Henan, China.

I was born in a relatively small, slowly developing, and quite conservative city in central part of China called Puyang. About three and a half years ago, I came to Ithaca, N.Y., for college all by myself. That was my first time being abroad.

I am so fortunate that my parents have always been very open and they would allow me to try things out and make decisions on my own. My father, from his personal experience with his parents, understands how important it is for me to study something that I am really into rather than being coerced and end up doing things that I don’t enjoy. That’s why I ended up majoring in journalism and politics, although I know my mother would probably be so much more satisfied if I go to medical schools and be a doctor someday.

I grew up dreaming to be a war correspondent. I enjoyed reading creative non-fictions and autobiographies written by journalists. For all these years, in my mind, I guess, being a war correspondent was just something that seemed to be so romantic: traveling around in war zones, talking to people in a different language, fleeing under the rain of bullets and behind the fog of smoke bombs…

I know I was stupid. I know that I was over-romanticizing wars and what journalists actually do. I hear about all those journalists who were killed in warzones: some were as casualties of wars; some were even as political leverages. They fulfilled their roles as journalists with the cost of their lives. They are men and women with great courage, great determinations, and great hearts.

Once I was talking to a mentor of mine about how I don’t think I have the courage as those war correspondents do. He was astonished: “Are you kidding me? You are the bravest person I’ve ever known! You are brave enough to come to this country at such a young age all by yourself!” That was clearly the most encouraging thing I’ve ever heard.

I spent a semester at the University of Hong Kong in the fall of 2012. During my time there, I was lucky enough to be able to learn from some of the best journalists such as former CNN's Senior Asia Correspondent Mike Chinoy and famous non-fiction writer and "China watcher" Qian Gang. It was a great experience for me and I would love to go back there in the future. 

I am very excited to be on the blogging team for FLEFF this year. I’ve definitely had some memorable time with FLEFF in the past. The films that FLEFF showcases are eye-opening for me, especially those independent films from China. They have allowed me to look at my home country with a different perspective because most of those films are banned in Mainland China, and, at the same time, they also differ from what's mainstream in the United States. To some extent, It is similar to my experience in Hong Kong, where I was able to examine China from a relatively independent viewpoint.


Wow Lucy! You must have an amazing comparative perspective of international education. That's so unique. When you went back to UHK in fall 2012 did you find that you preferred Chinese education system or America's? Or maybe are there aspects of both that you see as advantages and disadvantages?

All I can say about being a war correspondent is good luck and you can do anything successfully as long as you believe in yourself.

Lucy, I have so enjoyed reading your introduction! Your background is so incredible and courageous. I really admire your ability to put yourself in a new environment and study overseas, and I'm so happy that you are! It's so great to have you on our blogging team, we're going to have a lot of great experiences this semester!

I think it's really interesting that FLEFF has helped you to look at China in a new light. The festival is so powerful in that way because it allows you to open your mind to different perspectives.

I also think it's incredibly courageous of you to want to be a war correspondent! I'm confident that you will be able to make your dream a reality someday, as long as you promise to stay safe!

Rachael, thanks for your comment and question!

Spending a semester in Hong Kong has really made me start to compare different education systems. In fact, universities in Hong Kong have adopted the British system due to the colonial influences. Most courses HKU offers have once-a-week big lectures and small tutorial sessions. But all the courses at their Journalism and Media Studies Center are taught in a way that's more like an American J School: small workshops with intensive hands-on experience. With Hong Kong being an international and fairly independent city state, education and academia in Hong Kong have lots of freedom and is very diverse with professors and students from everywhere in the world. As I mentioned in the blog, Hong Kong is a great place for me to watch China from a perspective that I would've never had if I were anywhere else.

On the other hand, I personally think higher education in China is getting worse. It is completely different from the time when my dad went to college in the 1980s. Since the student movements in the late 1980s, colleges in China have stopped encouraging independent thinkers. I think it's hard to have academic innovation in an environment like that.

Your experience in South Africa must also be amazing! I wish you could share more about that with us!

Haley, thank you for your great comment! I am sure we will have lots of great experiences this semester together as a team!

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