Topic: College of Communication Information and Media

July 28, 2016

The first few days of being in Brazil have been a whirlwind of sights, sounds, smells and even tastes for Reilly Ann Small and Madi Grosh, two of the Ball State University students providing behind-the-scenes coverage of the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Ball State at the Games student

Vivien Pong, a senior telecommunications major from Carmel, Indiana, is one of nearly 50 students from Ball State who are in Brazil to cover the 2016 Summer Olympics.

“My favorite part is the graffiti street art because it is viewed as an art form here, as opposed to vandalism back in the U.S.,” said Small, a junior studying public relations. “I am also enjoying Brazilian coffee. I am a huge coffee fanatic. So being in a different country and trying different things is something that really sparks my interest.”

Shortly after landing in Sao Paulo, the nation’s largest city, during a recent weekend, Grosh began reporting for a “need-to-know” story to assist visitors to the upcoming games.

“I am working on a story about the differences in culture between the U.S. and Brazil,” said Grosh, a junior who is studying telecommunications. “I learned a great deal and have a lot to write about. I’ve met new people, learned new words (in Portuguese, Brazil’s official language) and now have new favorite foods.”

Small and Grosh are part of a first wave of students reporting on the culture of Brazil as part of Ball State at the Games, a student-managed news operation working in conjunction with several media organizations to provide original multimedia content about the Olympics, the host country, athletes and spectators.

Students will spend their first week in Sao Paulo before moving to their base of operations, a hostel just a short distance from Olympic facilities in Rio de Janeiro. Overall, about 50 students will travel to South America and report from the Rio Olympics on Aug. 5-18.

Ball State at the Games students

Rio is the third Olympics for Ball State at the Games. The project began at the 2012 Olympics in London and continued at the 2014 games in Sochi, Russia.

The Ball State program was created by Ball State’s Department of Journalism to report from the 2012 Olympic Games in London and continued with Sochi, Russia, in 2014.

“BSU at the Games provides our students with an intercultural learning experience while also providing professional skills and development they would not receive in the classroom,” said Ryan Sparrow, director of Ball State at the Games and a journalism instructor. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of and share in the tradition of such a global event.”

The games are expected to feature about 10,500 athletes from more than 200 nations competing in more than three dozen sports. Events will take place in Rio and five other cities across Brazil.

As part of the immersive learning opportunity, students traveling to Brazil could take courses focusing on Brazilian culture, broadcast video creation, documentary filmmaking, multimedia reporting, public relations and visual communication.

As part of the project, an on-campus public relations team that comprises eight students will edit content, handle media relations and maintain the project’s web presence. Another eight will work in Chicago, creating information graphics for the Chicago Tribune.

Additional program instructors are Deborah Davis, assistant journalism professor and public relations team adviser; Adam Kuban, assistant journalism professor and sports team adviser; Suzy Smith, associate telecommunications professor and video team adviser; Colleen Steffen, journalism instructor and features team adviser; and Terry Heiftez and Jeff Holiday, telecommunications instructors.

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Keep up to date on the 2016 Summer Olympics with the student journalists' coverage both on the web and on social media.