Category Archives: Travel

Resting after 17 or 18 days

I’m not sure how you count the days when you travel back across the International Date Line. But I left Taipei at 7:20 p.m. on Saturday, May 15, flew about 11 hours, and landed in Los Angeles at 3:45 p.m. on Saturday, May 15. Ended up getting back to Miami about sunrise on Sunday.

So is was either 17 or 18 days with 13 lectures (including questions and answers) and four panel sessions during an eight-day program in two countries and five cities. I visited St. Petersburg and Moscow in Russia and Taipei, Kaohsiung and Taichung in Taiwan.

I spoke to journalism or communications students, to journalists and to professional journalism organizations, including the Faculty of Journalism at Moscow State University and the National University of Science and Technology in Russia, and the National Taiwan University Graduate Institute of Journalism, National Taiwan Normal University, Wenzao Ursuline College of Languages and Providence University in Taiwan. The talk at Providence University was webcast to about 15 other colleges or universities. I also spoke at IREX, the International Research and Exchanges Board in Moscow, and that talk was webcast to two other cities. Additionally in Moscow I spoke at the American Center at the Library of Foreign Literature and on a panel session with foreign correspondents from The New York Times, The Associated Press and The Christian Science Monitor. I heard Russian Fulbright winners describe their work in the United States, and try to encourage others to apply for the program. A highlight of the Moscow trip was a reception at the U.S. Embassy, hosted by Deputy Chief of Mission Eric Rubin.

Poster at Providence University

Poster announcing my talk at Providence University, Taichung

In Taiwan, besides talks at universities, I also spoke to editors and reporters at Business Weekly magazine and at ETTV and with reporters and editors at Central News Agency. (Here’s the story they wrote: Digital media helpful for traditional news industry) I met with a group of radio reporters in Taichung. In Taipei I was on a panel with a representative of Yahoo! and an editor from Global Voices. I also had a great conversation with William Stanton, Director of the American Institute in Taiwan.

All the university students were fascinated to hear about Knight News Challenge projects and how to apply to the Knight News Challenge. But some also wanted to ask about U. S. journalism education and talk about my new role (starting July 1) as Dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Another view of the poster


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Filed under Russia, Taiwan, Travel

Catching up – posting pics from Russia

I leave in an hour to go to Taipei airport to fly to Los Angeles, and then catch the red-eye to Miami. So, I thought I should at least try to catch up with posting pics from Russia. Those from Taiwan will have to wait a bit.

Grand staircase at journalism building at Moscow State University

Photos of Moscow State University journalism building and prepping for talk there

Main campus of Moscow State

Meeting Alex's friends around town

Meeting Alex’s friends and walking around Moscow

A park celebrating the various former republics of the Soviet Union

And a park with sculpture of former Soviet heros

Reaching for food - probably someone else's

My hotel next to Red Square and across from the Bolshoi

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Filed under Photos, Russia, Travel

Around the World

Just completed the first segment of a literal around-the-world series of flights: Miami to New York’s JFK; JFK to Moscow; Moscow to Beijing; Beijing to Taipei; Taipei to Los Angeles; Los Angeles to Miami.

Someone recently told me that in the days of Pan Am Airlines, they used to make a big deal of this. I think it’s a wonderful reason to have a party – each leg of the way!

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Filed under Russia, Taiwan, Travel

It felt like Jurassic Park, with slightly smaller beasts


My mascot


White rhinoceros and her weeks-old baby.

White rhinoceros and her weeks-old baby.

Elephant family in Kruger National Park.

Elephant family in Kruger National Park.

Click here for more pictures from Kruger Park

Kruger National Park, a wildlife park the size of Wales, is like the best Easter egg hunt you’ve ever been on.

Remember as a kid when you would lift a pillow in the living room and find an egg, or look under a bush in the yard and find another? You never knew where the next would be, but you just kept looking everywhere.

That is a small example of what driving around in Kruger National Park is like.  One minute you see rocks and brush, and then you go down a valley or over a ridge and there’s a herd of elephants, or a lion chasing an impala or a baby white rhinoceros. It’s unbelievable. It’s incredible.

During a three-day weekend, I saw four of the park’s “Big Five”: lion, elephant, rhinoceros, water buffalo. I did not see a leopard, the remaining biggie in the Big Five.

I also saw baboons, giraffe, impala, kudu, warthogs, zebra, crocodiles and hippopotamuses.

I most enjoyed watching the colony of about 15 baboons and later the herd of 20 elephants interacting in their natural environment. I couldn’t do anything except stare.

Flying into the park was a little reminiscent of scenes from Jurassic Park. When you enter the camps, with their big, electrified gates that close promptly at 6 p.m., and when you stand on the balcony of the restaurant and see an elephant trudge by, and when you realize that electrified fences surround the camp, you get even more of a feeling of Jurassic Park.

Dusk at the camps in the park is the time for the most fantastic, loud symphony of bird songs you’ve ever heard. It truly is the Symphony of a Thousand. (They definitely have Mahler beat.)
I’m not sure if I can ever go to a zoo again.

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Filed under Africa, South Africa, Travel

The countryside


Wine country near Cape Town

Wine country near Cape Town

South Africa contains many of the landscapes familiar in the United States — and you don’t have to drive as far to see them.


Cape Town is as beautiful (and fun, I’m told) as San Francisco.

Johannesburg is South Africa’s New York City.

Pretoria’s suburbs remind me of new suburbs nearPhoenix, Ariz.

The desert areas here are like the U.S. Southwest.

The many rolling plains remind me of the Great Plains in the U.S.

The wine country is like California’s Napa Valley or New York’s Finger Lakes Region.

The mountains remind me of driving in Colorado.

And the beaches are like Florida — with a lot colder water.

Then there are wildlife parks with no U.S. equivalent. You feel as if you stepped into a world hundreds of thousands of years old, where all the wild beasts still roam.

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Filed under Africa, South Africa, Travel

General observations

Everyone I’ve met has been friendly, polite and more than willing to go out of their way to make sure things are going well for me. They love to entertain over meals, which works for me. The food has been great — lots of grilled meat, vegetables and fruit. Buddawurst here is like bratwurst in Germany. The South Africans I’ve met all want to know if I like their country, which I do, very much.

But it takes getting used to the fact that South Africa is both a first-world and a third-world country. Turning two or three blocks in a city, you easily can walk from one world to another, going from a modern apartment building to a lot filled with shacks. Driving a mile can also take you from a gigantic rolling hill and valley covered with thousands of shacks, to a neighborhood of middle-class brick homes.

Most Americans are more used to seeing the vastness of the South African countryside than European or even other African visitors here are. The area from Pretoria to Johannesburg is large flat plains, then slightly rolling hills. Gigantic boulders dot the plains, along with stands of short trees. The dry season will last a few more weeks here, so right now all the land is brown and dusty. Looking down on Pretoria, which is in a valley, is like looking at Los Angeles on are really bad smog day. When the rains start, I’m told the countryside will completely transform to lush green.

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Filed under Africa, Travel

Three kinds of people

I’ve started to think that the world divides into three kinds of people: 1) bloggers, 2) those who blog and 3) those who don’t. Bloggers are good at this, do it regularly and often have interesting observations and reports. Those who blog are part of the self-publishing-enabled mass who blog because they can. Their blogs often aren’t as interesting as those of the bloggers. And then there was my group. Those who don’t blog.

Blogging is difficult work that needs to be done regularly. That’s why I haven’t done it. But circumstances have forced me to enter the group of those who blog. I’ve received a great opportunity to spend a month at Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria, South Africa, to work with the journalism faculty there, to teach some classes and to do some consulting.

Everyone here says, and I’m sure they’re right, that this will be a life-changing experience. Consequently, I feel a responsibility to blog about what I observe and what I hope I learn in a part of the world I know nothing about.

I’ve already had the pains of crack withdrawal when I learned yesterday that the apartment I’ll be staying in for a month has no Internet connection. Eventually, I thought, well, I could read books or go to cafes and talk to people. This might be good for me.

And it’s not as if I’ll have no Internet connection for a month. All day on campus I’ll be connected. So maybe what I need to do in the evening is get a life … or at least a hobby.


Filed under Africa, Travel