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iMedia students share 'fly-in' projects for the public good

Graduate students in the Interactive Media master’s program aided organizations and communities this January in Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Ireland and the Dominican Republic as part of their studies.

Kelly Foran (left) and Tarah Holland highlight Team Belize’s work with Cornerstone Foundation, a nonprofit organization that runs a variety of outreach programs, addressing literacy, HIV/AIDS and domestic violence, among other topics.

​​Elon University’s master’s program in Interactive Media sends student groups to complete international projects for the public good each January as part of their Winter Term “fly-in” experience. Upon their return, the groups build robust online presences for their respective nonprofit organizations, agencies and communities.

The iMedia program celebrated its seventh edition of the fly-in experience with formal presentations held on Jan. 25 in Studio B of McEwen Communications Building. The five student groups shared details about their trips, their objectives, as well as their finished projects. A photo gallery of the presentations is available on the School of Communications’ Flickr page.

Students traveled to Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Ireland and the Dominican Republic. While Costa Rica is a familiar fly-in stop – with six previous visits – it was the first time graduate students traveled to Belize and Ireland.

As part of their project, the groups filmed video, designed promotional materials, shot still photography, researched marketing plans, and assisted with social media to help raise awareness of their organizations.

After approximately a week on the ground collecting and gathering content, the students returned to campus to create websites, blogs, photo and video galleries, social media platforms, and other online marketing tools. Over the course of the next two weeks, the groups completely overhauled their clients’ presence online and, in some cases, built their presence from scratch.

​“This is a class unlike any other class,” said David Copeland, Elon’s A.J. Fletcher Professor and director of the graduate program. “It’s a class where our students partner and begin working in early October with clients. We spend our time learning about our clients, learning about the places we’re going to go, then go there and spend our time working – what seems like nonstop. We become so involved with what we are doing that you kind of forget that you are working for a client."

Taylor Smith introduces Team Dominican Republic’s project and its work with a nonprofit organization aimed at improving the lives of people in Río San Juan.

​Here is a recap of the team projects:

Team Belize
While in San Ignacio, Belize, the seven-person team worked closely with Cornerstone Foundation to plan and capture content for a new website for the nonprofit organization. Each day the team interviewed Cornerstone staff and a host of volunteers and clients on site at the organization’s offices. The team also explored San Ignacio and the surrounding area to experience the local culture, to see Cornerstone’s impact in the community, and to gather additional video footage for the project.

Team Costa Rica
A group of seven iMedia students traveled to the town of Sierpe, Costa Rica, to work with the Camara de Turismo de Sierpe to promote tourism and travel to the area. While in Sierpe, the team conducted interviews with local business owners and gathered multimedia content to capture the spirit of Sierpe and the natural beauty of its surroundings. The group’s efforts led to the creation of www.destinationsierpe.com.

Team Guatemala
While visiting Quetzaltenango and the surrounding areas of Guatemala, a team of seven students met with the Tierra Verde Project and collected photos, video and interviews for web content. Tierra Verde provides the necessary inputs, knowledge and technology that allows low-income families to produce organic agricultural crops for their consumption and marketing. This strengthens food security, health, natural production cycles and entrepreneurship in the area. The Tierra Verde Project website is available in both English and Spanish to make it easier for their respective audiences to receive information.

Courtney Penezic discusses Team Guatemala’s efforts with the Tierra Verde Project, which helps low-income families produce organic agricultural crops.

​​​​Team Ireland
Team Ireland (also known as Team iMeitheal) worked with Mícheál Ó Foighil, a prominent Irish-language preservation activist and educator, to develop Abair Leat, the world's first minority-language mobile messaging application. The seven graduate students spent a week in the Gaeltacht region of Western Ireland to collect promotional and educational content before returning to Elon to complete Abair Leat's design and initial promotional materials. Although Abair Leat is under development as an Irish-language application, Team iMeitheal expects that people from all over the world can employ its basic functionality to help preserve additional minority languages.

Team Dominican Republic
A group of eight students created a new website for Alegría Gri Grí, a nonprofit organization aimed at improving the lives of people in Río San Juan, Dominican Republic. The students traveled to Río San Juan for 10 days to collect media and immerse themselves in the environment of those assisted by the organization, absorbing culture and defining a clear message to appeal to prospective and current donors and volunteers. The new website serves to not only create awareness of the organization and its mission, but also to facilitate donations online. Included in the web project was a marketing strategy plan and revitalization of the organization's social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Tommy Kopetskie,
1/25/2016 4:05 PM