International Storytelling 2014



Welcome to International Storytelling.

You’ve landed on this site because you are interested in the International Storytelling course offered by Kent State University’s College of Communication and Information.  The previous three years of International Storytelling included two-week reporting projects in China, India and Brazil. This year’s course promises to be even more exciting with plans to take a group of students to the emerging economy of Estonia.

The course will be offered during spring semester 2014, with travel anticipated March 14-30 (spring break and the week before). The class will meet Thursday evenings all semester. We’ll spend the weeks before we leave preparing for the trip — studying the culture, considering potential stories and practicing convergence skills.  Once we get home we’ll spend the remainder of the semester publishing our finished projects on our project website.

Our home base in Estonia will be Tallinn, the capital city of this nation of 1.3 million residents. Estonia in 1991 regained its independence following nearly 50 years of Soviet occupation. Now it’s a high-tech hub (home of Skype) that still cherishes its old-world culture. Our location in the Baltics puts us across the water from Helsinki and Stockholm, so we’re already planning a ferry trip to Finland and a few days of tourism in Sweden.

The course is by application only. We want to attract the best reporters, photographers, videographers, storytellers and communicators in CCI to join us. If this describes you, fill out the short application form listed below to be considered. The two faculty members and the CCI director of International Studies will select the class from the list of applications.

The students who went to China, India and Brazil called their experiences life-changing. We anticipate similar stories from those who join us in Eastern Europe.

(Photo credit: Juan Medina/Creative Commons)


2nd info meeting Nov. 7

We hope to announce our team in early November, so you can get it on your spring schedule. (Remember the class meets Thursday evenings for the whole term.) With that in mind, we have scheduled a second information meeting at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 7, in Room 110 Franklin. We have begun reviewing applications and hope to let those accepted register for the class by Monday, Nov. 11.

The basics

What is International Storytelling?

The basics:

  • Spring 2014 three-credit, full-semester course in international reporting.
  • Includes a two-week trip from March 14-30. The first 10 days we will be based at a host university in Tallinn, with a weekend trip to Helsinki planned. The final three days are likely to be tourism in Stockholm, Sweden.
  • English-speaking students from our host university will partner with KSU students to share, learn and translate.
  • Reporting and editing teams will produce stories for a multimedia site using audio, video, images and text.
  • Class to meet 5:30-8:15 p.m. Thursdays in 110 Franklin Hall during all of spring term to prepare before travel and publish after.
  • CCI undergraduate and graduate students welcome. Applications are required; ideally the 16 participants we take will bring a mix of skill sets.
  • Course taught by JMC professors Gary Hanson and Mitch McKenney. Contact them.
  • You will need a passport in hand by the first week of January. Our destinations will not require a visa.


1172711140_1e6046857b_bFAQ – International Storytelling in Estonia

Why go to Estonia?

Estonia is an emerging economy on the Baltic Sea, representing the first European destination for International Storytelling. As Lonely Planet notes, the smallest Baltic country “makes its presence felt in the region with its lovely seaside towns, quaint country villages and verdant forests and marshlands, all of which set the scene for discovering many cultural and natural gems.” As The New York Times noted last year, “unlike many other places in Europe, unemployment is down, and there’s a sense of optimism in the air, helped by companies like Skype that have their main offices here.”

What will we do there?

We will work with English-speaking students to produce stories, photography and videos on aspects of life in Estonia, including (but not limited to) growth, education, business, religion and the arts. These are stories you’ll propose and pursue, similar to how we handled International Storytelling in China, India and Brazil. See the finished products at http://datelineshanghai.com and

What are the goals of the class?

To provide an interesting, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Kent State students to visit this part of the world, to practice your journalism skills and to produce cross-platform stories.

What do I get out of this?

Experience as an international reporter/storyteller. It will give you a strong item on interest for your resume and experiences that you can draw on for years to come. It’s a chance to meet people and work with peers from half a world away.

When does the class meet?

From 5:30 – 8:15 p.m. Thursdays during spring term. Our sessions may be shorter before the trip as we prepare and get started on our reporting. Once we’re home, we’ll need the entire class periods to publish our stories, photos and videos.

When do we travel?

March 14-30, 2014. We’ll fly together from a local airport, most likely Cleveland Hopkins.

Where will we be, exactly?

We plan to partner with Tallin Institute of Technology, which has a strong academic programs and students to help as story partners and translators. Our accommodations will be close to the campus.

Will there be time for sightseeing?

Yes. We’ll be busy reporting, photographing, writing and producing the stories during the days, though there will be time to enjoy the culture in the off-hours. Our plan is to depart March 14, and then board our flight home to Cleveland around March 30.

Do I need to be a journalism student?

No. We’re looking for students from all across CCI. We need reporters, photographers, videographers, designers, graphic artists, web communicators, interviewers, people with good communication skills.

Are there prerequisites?

We’re especially encouraging juniors, seniors and graduate students to apply, as they are more likely to have the skills needed to create the finished product. For the previous courses, that meant JMC majors should have at least completed the beat reporting course. Freshman and sophomore students should explain in their application why they’re right for this course.

How much will this cost?

There’s no additional tuition cost if you’re a fulltime spring student. You will need to pay the cost for flights and also a program fee to cover lodging, ground transportation and other group expenses. Some of these figures are a moving target, but we believe the program fee will be in the $3,000 range. Both of these costs will need to be paid in the first few weeks of spring term. You also will need to budget for meals and other purchases.

How will it count toward my degree?

The course is an upper-division CCI elective. Your adviser can you help determine exactly where it fits.

What if I have more questions?

Send an e-mail to professors Mitch McKenney ( or Gary Hanson ( Our phone numbers are 330-244-3364 (Mitch) or 330-672-8300 (Gary).

See our former International Storytelling sites

This is the fourth year of International Storytelling. The prior three years went to other emerging economies, China, India and Brazil. Here are the results: is the work of 16 Kent State students (below) who went to Shanghai in Spring 2011. It was the result of collaboration of students studying multimedia journalism, magazine, broadcast news, photojournalism and communication studies. has stories by the 18 Kent State students who traveled to the Delhi region of India in Spring 2012. Their experience included travel to the Taj Mahal, Goa and Mumbai. features stories from 16 Kent State students who went to Brazil in Spring 2013. The group visited Ilha do Mel, or “Honey Island,” and concluded with three days in Rio.



This is the application form for International Storytelling in Estonia – Spring 2014.

You’ll be asked to answer several questions about yourself. These questions are important for the college and university for anyone who is traveling in a Kent State University sponsored trip. The most important questions are ones that come later in the application in which you tell us the reasons you want to participate in this year’s  International Storytelling project.

Here is a preview of those questions. You may want to think about your answers beforehand (and even compose them off line) to get them “just right.”

1.  What appeals to you about this class?

2  What do you hope to get out of the International Storytelling course?

3. The is a course in multimedia and converged storytelling.  What skills do you bring to the table that set you apart from other applicants?

4.  How confident are you about your ability to fund your portion of the travel for this course?

5. Each student will be asked to develop an area of expertise during the trip. Which areas might be of interest to you?

Click the Continue reading button below to see the application. (This is a Google Docs form.)

Continue reading