It is a great learning journey and opportunity for me to be part of the international media studies in media literacy program coordinated by University of Vienna and funded by the Erasmus+ Program.
After two of a half years of working as the Vietnamese project manager, I have seen both the intensive and extensive development of subject matter understanding, cultural sensitivity and the sense of shared responsibility and commitment. Most importantly, the project developed the transnational cooperation, trust and sphere of friendship.
First of all, I have enriched my understanding of media literacy as a bottom up approach of “what people can do with the media”, instead of “what media can do to the people”. In the media society, it is important to educate and train media-literate people.
Higher education institutions in journalism and communication provide official education and they can do more to facilitate life-long learning as part of their social responsibility. They should train the students and people to be the master of media, who can use the media responsibly and ethically for their personal growth and social development.
Media has long been considered the tool and instrument of communication but it is also the environment for social connection and development. Media helps to construct the society that we wish to be as “society is what its media is like and media is what its society is like”.
It is important to understand the role of media in constructing a healthy, sustainable and tolerant society. The rise of social media emphasizes this as the younger generation is exposed to the overwhelming cyberspace with risks lingering in opportunities. They should be educated to be able to learn how to use the media in a way that benefits themselves positively.
This understanding was the unknown to me before this project and now it empowers me in my research and teaching. I will follow this research direction in the future by focusing on outcome-based approach in media education, solving the media equilibrium and taking the audience-centred approach, etc.
Secondly, I have learnt to and overcome the challenges of working across cultures, borders and time. It is difficult to work in a culturally diverse group with people coming from Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Malaysia and Thailand, etc. As we started to work, there were more differences than similarities but along the way, we found more common ground of understanding and commitment.
Also, in any big group, there are people who work hard and those who fall a little bit behind. To move faster, we have to walk together by not leaving anybody behind. This takes patience, shared responsibility and mutual support and this is exactly what it means to be grouping in a group. Members are supposed to help each other to achieve the common objectives.
Last but not least, in any project, we always wish to do more than we could and to do better than we have done. As the project ends, the friendship, understanding and commitment stay. And it is the beginning of more cooperation in the future.