Park Scholars Go Global

Park Scholars Go Global

Discover what some of our Park Scholars abroad are doing.

Posted by Kyla Pigoni at 10:23PM   |  Add a comment
jackson here

By Jackson Eagan, '14

Hello everyone! I wanted to share a cool thing that I got to participate in here in Alicante, Spain.

Being the enthusiastic (possibly obsessive) student of film that I am, ever since my first day in Alicante I have been making it known that I'm looking for sets to work on. I quickly ran out of places to look, however, and so for a whole month nothing came of it. I had pretty much given up hope when on a sunny day in early February I ran into Marisa Pérez, one of the directors of my study abroad program, who told me she had an opportunity for me.

Connections (here called "enchufes," aka "plug-ins") are, for the most part, what make the U.S. film industry tick. That day, I discovered that Spain is no different: Marisa knew a woman who knew a man who is a film director. At the time, he was looking for crewmembers to shoot a music video that week for a nationally recognized band. So before I knew it, I was on the crew list among 15 people who I didn't know, signed up as the one and only "electric" (lighting technician). I had two days to prepare. Talk about pressure!

So of course I stressed myself out. The thing about film sets is that there is so much technical jargon thrown around that even in English, it's tough to understand what's going on. My poor host parents had to endure a long session of me quizzing them on how to say electrical terminology in Spanish. 

The day came soon after, and on the morning of the 6th I nervously showed up to set, with my tool bag nicely organized, making sure to arrive a good fifteen minutes early. This allowed me to chat with the director, Gregorio, who was thankfully very easy-going and anything but intimidating. As the crew slowly trickled in, he explained to me an interesting aspect of Spanish culture: lack of punctuality. While on American film sets it is expected that everyone show up early or at the very latest at the designated hour, in Spain the expectations are much more relaxed (according to Gregorio). Hence the widely used phrase "no pasa nada," which literally translates to "nothing happens," but really means "no worries" or simply "whatever."

I began to set up lights and chat with Gregorio about his vision for the visual style. Eventually, the band showed up and I got the meet all of them. It is a boy band called Auryn, composed of five guys who are all about my age. If you're familiar with the British boy band One Direction, Auryn is the Spanish version (or so various people have told me). They were very nice, and extremely talented. One of the boys, Carlos, has blond hair and therefore looks a bit like me, so I joked around with him about stepping in as a stunt double if he had to do something dangerous!

Another cool thing about the shoot is the woman who plays the "femme fatale," Úrsula Coberó, is a relatively famous actress in Spain. During the shoot, however, I had no idea. Now I hear her name all the time; I even randomly saw her on TV today!

We filmed in five different locations that day and ended up wrapping at 5:00 in the morning. The night scenes were especially arduous because of the gale-force winds and the icy-cold air temperature of 40 degrees Farenheit (wink wink, Ithacans). It was a very long but rewarding day! I kept in touch with almost everyone on the crew afterwards (remember what I said about connections!) Since the music video shoot, I have gotten to attend a hands-on lighting workshop at the "Ciudad de la Luz" Film School and I have worked on a short film set as an electric. I've heard about several shoots coming up in March, and so I am hoping to work on them as well!

In conclusion, I'll leave you with the final cut of the music video, which was only just released a few days ago! For those of you who are interested in lighting, I was only responsible for keys, fills, and backlights. I can't take any credit for the crazy club lighting!

Posted by Kyla Pigoni at 3:42PM   |  Add a comment
Jennifer Jordan at a Spanish football game

 By Jennifer Jordan, '15

This past Saturday night I found myself in a place of worship at my first true sporting event. A group of friends and I decided to brave the freezing (for Barcelona anyway) weather and attend the Barcelona vs. Seville soccer game. The atmosphere of the countless football games, basketball games, and various other sporting events I have been to in the past could not compare to the electric, focused environment in the Camp Nou stadium. I expected to experience a new level of fan devotion due to the Spaniard obsession with soccer, but it manifested itself in a surprising way.

Rather than a conglomeration of people on their feet screaming obscenities and cheering during the whole game, people were relatively calm, focusing all their energy on watching the athletic gods on the field. They carried on soft conversations amongst each other, usually without peeling their eyes away from the action on the turf. There were not any audience games like the “Kiss Cam” or dance contests that are so common at American sporting events to distract from the game. The stadium remained fairly quiet; only when the swift-footed, Catalan players took a tumble was there a collective clamoring of discontent—that is until Barça scored.

When that long-awaited moment happened where the soccer ball went soaring into the net, the entire crowded suddenly leapt up, whistling, clapping, and roaring their happiness for the team they consider part of their families. Although the feeling of unity and team pride was strongest after each score, there was a section near the field that acted as the cheerleaders throughout the game, waving the Catalan flag and leading the chants that every person—except for the tourists—knew by heart. I was struck by the strong sense of Catalan (not Spanish) nationalism that the fans had and found myself admiring the Catalan ability to preserve their culture in spite of a repressive dictatorship and efforts since that time to unify Spain and Spanish culture.

The biggest difference between this soccer game and just about every other major sporting event in the U.S. was that people were actually there to watch the game, not pig out on fried, cheesy, over-priced delicacies. For example, this past summer I went to a Texas Ranger’s baseball game and watched people single-handedly polish off 3-foot-long chilidogs. Saturday, people were eating small croissants and bocadillos and only during half time. Also, they do not serve alcoholic beer at these soccer games, which I’m pretty sure would be considered a crime in Texas. Although I was kind of disappointed not to snack on some nachos during the game, I think that for once instead of fighting a cheese-induced coma, I was able to invest all my energy to watching the match, hoping for a Barcelona win, and gaining a newfound sense of Catalan pride.

Posted by Kyla Pigoni at 8:19PM   |  Add a comment
Bethany with one of London's iconic guards.

By Bethany George, '15

One of the numerous benefits of studying abroad at the Ithaca College London Center is that you can apply for an internship that compliments your personal interests and your field in study. All it takes is a few extra steps in the application process, such as applying for a work Visa and writing a cover letter.

In my cover letter, I wrote about my desire to work for a writing department for television. Two months later, I found myself sitting at a desk at a TV documentary production company, Films of Record.

Founded in 1979 by a highly praised director, Robert Graef, Films of Record aims to investigate difficult current affairs and social issues, criminal justice, business, science, and politics. The documentaries Films of Records produces are aired on BBC, Channel 4, and National Geographic. Right away I was put to work researching potential documentary series, and writing storylines based on that research. I am in heaven.

On Monday, February 18th, I was blessed with the opportunity of being invited to Birbeck College to attend a lecture with Roger Graef.

In the few times I’ve seen Graef around the office, he in always adorned with a giant smile and wide eyes under his glasses. He shuffles slowing around the workspaces, greeting everyone. The first time I saw him I immediately thought of a shorter Larry David.

After shuffling into the classroom in his own way, Graef described to the students in attendance the myth associated with the media, and his personal explanation of how he has managed to maneuver his way around this myth into impermeable institutions to expose terrible realities.

The myth that is generally associated with the media is that it is an organization whose main goal is to exploit and take advantage of its subjects. With the danger of personal stereotypes and judgments of the interviewer or interviewee being revealed and disseminated, the result is that a true account of the situation might not be created.

Graef has struggled with this issue and has come up with a few reasonable solutions. One solution is he really stresses the idea of being a “fly on the wall,” or just giving a glimpse of the pain without adding to it. In fact, he is one of the first directions to fully take that saying to the extreme and produce some very influential films because of it. 30 years ago, he released “The Allegations of Rape,” a 40-minute film that was about a woman who had claimed she had been raped, and was disrespected during an interview with three policemen.

Another solution Graef practices is a 2-part consent system. He first receives consent to film, and then after the movie is finished he lets those involved watch it and make sure he is portraying them correctly.

After he got permission from both the police and the woman, him and his crew set up a camera in the back of the room and just filmed the back of the woman’s head, and close ups of the polices’ faces. He didn’t add any narration, or do any special effects. However, by acting like a “fly on the wall,” the viewer feels as if they are the woman, being screamed at and accused, and therefore sympathize with her. The police watched the final product and didn’t feel the underlying sympathy, so when they gave Graef the okay, the film caused quite the scene. People were very angry with the police and, consequently the way rape cases were treated in the force was changed.

While remaining almost completely on the outskirts observing, the finalized documentary should have the goal to mediate and challenge the viewers to reflect upon their own ideas. The perfect film grabs viewers’ attention, gets them to think, and inspire them to take immediate action to do something about the issue at large.

Posted by Kyla Pigoni at 10:46AM   |  Add a comment


Buena onda.
A common and beloved phrase here in Córdoba. People can have buena onda. Places. Things. Todo (everything). I have struggled to come up a suitable translation in English, and that makes it even more beautiful. Buena=good and onda=wave. Buena onda is something you just feel and can’t really explain. A person who you can just tell has such a kind heart, a genuinely good soul; a place that just gives off a positive energy…it’s really everywhere if you allow yourself to feel it.


In the past few months here in Argentina I have run into so much buena onda that it may in fact be seeping into my very being. I try to take in the buena onda wherever I go, and I think we all do that without realizing it. We travel from place to place from here to there searching for people, for places, for experiences that makes us feel alive and content. And once we find it, we settle in the moment to soak it in.

I have tried to assemble a list of “buena ondas” from the past month or so [more or less in chronological order]…there have been many.


1. Gettin’ Educated

Yes. I am in fact getting educated here in Argentina both in the traditional and non-traditional sense. During the month of February, I completed a Spanish intensive. Now, I am enrolled in another Spanish class and also Problemática Socioeconómica. Both are challenging in content and language. My lack of motivation to do any real schoolwork while in Argentina doesn’t help either. But I like to tell myself that I’m studying while eating dinner with my family, watching Los Graduados (a popular soap opera or “novela” here), reading to my little sisters, sitting and drinking mate with my Argentine friends and even going out on weekends to the boliches (clubs)… because HEY the music is in Spanish most of the time.

I have learned a lot in a place where I’m supposed to be teaching. I started volunteering at a preschool in the city a few weeks ago. My first day there, I was immediately welcomed by the director Carmen and told “You are going to do great here. You are already part of our family.” The rest of the day I ran around a sand and concrete playground with 30 three-and-four-year-olds. They began finding gifts for me. Leaves. Rocks. Sticks. Random stickers that had found refuge in the sand. And throughout the day they would give them to me until I could no longer hold them all. They are also intrigued with my key necklace. “Es este tu llave?” Is this your key? What does it open? I tried explaining the symbolism of adventure and unknown to them, how I don’t know what it opens, but that’s what I like about it. Most of them looked at me blankly….probably from a combination of my broken Spanish and abstractedness. But just as I was about to give up, the little girl on my lap looked up at me and smiled. Entendés? Do you understand? Sí. Yes. And from there they ran off screaming toward the slide, pushing rubber tires, fighting over pails and shovels finding adventures of their own in every area of that small enclosed place.

I was told by the director that the mission of this preschool is to give these kids, many of whom come from tough family backgrounds, a stable home. They want them to learn how to solve their own problems between themselves, so when trivial arguments arise I was told to not involve myself. And it works. An arm that in one moment was angry enough to throw a toy, hugs in an immediate moment of regret. Their kindness knows no bounds. And if this place has any onda other than una buena onda, it’s an onda of home. The building itself is an old house, the four women like mothers to all of the children. And me, I’m only a visitor, but I’ve found yet another family.

2. Speaking of Family…

I am so lucky I have the family I do. My house is always buena onda…with visitors in and out almost every day, dancing and singing in the kitchen, and the occasional fiesta and asado. Towards the end of March, a man from Buenos Aires named Graciano moved into the room above the house. He is in his 30s and is constantly happy, quirky, and talkative. He is continuing his philosophy studies at the university and has boxes and boxes of books. It’s not uncommon for him to sprint up the spiral staircase mid-conversation, grab a book, and lend it to me to read. Euge, Graciano and I (before Euge moved out..I’ll get to that later) would have study sessions every night until 2 or 3 in the morning. One night, after my favorite toast (ARRIBA, ABAJO, A CENTRO, ADENTRO) we discussed why we all came to Córdoba. We are all here studying, yes. But we are also all at different stages in our life, from different backgrounds. Graciano says Córdoba is the best city in the world. Why? Because of the buena onda, of course!

Graciano y yo

Euge, host mom Laura y yo!

One weekend, Euge and I decided to throw a Pancake Party. She made Argentine panqueques..which are more like crepes. And I made a whole bunch of American pancakes to eat with the NH maple syrup I brought along.

My little sister Clari celebrated her 6th birthday last week. In the afternoon, there were about 30 of her friends running around, and later her entire family came. My mom and other younger sister, Vera, made this amazing cake!



Graciano y yo


Euge, host mom Laura y yo!


One weekend, Euge and I decided to throw a Pancake Party. She made Argentine panqueques..which are more like crepes. And I made a whole bunch of American pancakes to eat with the NH maple syrup I brought along.


My little sister Clari celebrated her 6th birthday last week. In the afternoon, there were about 30 of her friends running around, and later her entire family came. My mom and other younger sister, Vera, made this amazing cake!


Posted by Kyla Pigoni at 12:36PM   |  Add a comment

By Cady Lang, sophomore journalism major

Ciao from Milano, Italy! It's hard to believe that I've been living in Milan for over four months now. Sometimes, when I look outside my window and remember that I'm 6000 miles from home, my life seems surreal. My study abroad experience so far has been magical. Although Milan is a far cry from the picturesque villages and small towns usually associated with Italy, I've grown to love this busy and bustling metropolis. Instead of quaint villas, the streets are filled with skyscrapers that are next to historic buildings, modern art sculptures that are next to Renaissance era castles. Milan is a mix of the old and new, a city thriving with creation.

 As the second largest city in Italy and the center of fashion, finance, communications, and design, Milan has given me numerous opportunities to indulge my various passions. As an art history minor, being in Milan has given me a chance to absorb so much art within one city; from Leonardo Da Vinci's Last Supper at the refractory of the Santa Maria Della Grazia to the amazing Lucio Fontana room at my favorite art museum, Novecento, I've been devouring art in one of Italy's art destinations. I love fashion and hope to one day write for a fashion publication, so living in the fashion capital of the world has been a daily treat. From seeing models at my local grocery store during Milan Fashion Week to randomly striking up a conversation with a textile designer for Italian label Roberto Cavalli, I've loved that the city lives and breathes moda (fashion.) I've even had the chance to meet and work with one of my inspirations in both the communications and fashion worlds. Renata Molho, who is one of Italy leading fashion journalists (her work has appeared in publications like Vogue Italia and GQ) and the author of the only authorized biography of Giorgio Armani, is teaching a class at my study abroad program this semester. This opportunity, however, is only one of many that have come my way since I moved to Milan.

Since Milan is the center for communications, it is home to the major televison studios, the most respected newspaper in Italy and the best publishing companies and advertising firms. I'm currently taking a class about communications and media in Milan, which has taught me so much about not only Italian programs and publications, but the social and political forces behind it, a relevant theme in the United States as well. The independent media education that I've received at Ithaca has helped me to discuss the differences between Italian and American media. I've had the opportunity to visit the offices of Corriere Della Sera, Italy's best newspaper and was even a member of the television audience for a daytime talk show, Mattino Cinque.

However, what I've truly enjoyed is the chance to meet new people and develop meaningful relationships. The friends that I've gained during this trip are truly a godsend and as diverse as they come. From the kind woman I met at my local café, while stopping for my daily cappuccino to my fellow university students, the people that I have met are lovely and genuine - I know that if I ever come back to Milan, I'll have friends in the city. One of the brightest spots in my week is my volunteering session at Porto Franco, a free educational assistance center for high school students in Milan. Once a week, I help students with their English homework and conversation skills; however, in my case, they're also helping me to improve my Italian. In one short month, I'll be back in the states, first home to California, then off to intern in New York City. However, the time that I've spent here will stay in my heart forever. Baci!

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