Wagwan, fellow aspiring public relations professionals! Last week at this time I was teaching children at White Horses Primary School, an Elementary School in St. Thomas, Jamaica, about sustainability. Every year, my universtiy sponsors service immersion trips to locations which include Jamaica. So last week, I found myself in Jamacia with 12 other students completing service projects and fending off wild life. I couldn’t use my phone and I had no access to the internet. As both a public relations student and college student, I found it hard at first to detach from my work and my online social world. However, by the end of the trip, I learned invaluable lessons about public relations which I couldn’t have learned in the classroom or even in my student and professional organizations.
As aspiring public relations professionals it’s our job to be informed. Traveling to Jamaica opened my eyes to different cultures and issues that impact those around the world. This is important because the context which we live impacts the way we communicate. I have also learned how culturally, social media is used differently. For example, unlike in the United Staes, social media sites aren’t visited every hour on the hour. So, culturally a strategic public realtions plan involving social media for a company or organization in Jamaica would not be successful.
In all, I highly encourage every student, especially public realtions students, to study and to volunteer abroad. The more we understand about the world and how those around us communicate, the better and more strategic communicators we become.
Have you ever studied or volunteered abroad? If so, how has it impacted you professionally?