A documentary titled “Fresno to Fiji,” produced by mass communication and journalism professor Jes Therkelsen and four students who traveled to Fiji in 2015, will air on Valley PBS (Channel 18) at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 21. The film will later be available on demand on the PBS website.

The film documents an international service-learning study abroad trip to Fiji during the University’s 2015 winter beak. Twenty Fresno State students took part, four of whom were from the Mass Communication and Journalism Department.

Through the project, students aided development in Fiji and engaged in the community through village events, sports, games and educational opportunities. Participants experienced local food, local accommodation and daily life as they were immersed in the culture.

Fresno State to Fiji

Fresno State Students in Fiji

Students earn credit for Community Service 101, as facilitated by Chris Fiorentino, director of the Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning at Fresno State. The University recently surpassed more than 10 million hours of community service in 10 years.

The students used professional video equipment to document the interaction between cultures during their time in Fiji. Upon returning to Fresno, the students edited the more than 25 hours of raw footage into a half-hour film, which will screen on Sunday.

Fresno State in Fiji

Fresno State in Fiji

“This was an incredible opportunity for our students on two levels,” Therkelsen said. “First, it allowed them to immerse themselves in a very different culture. We were living in the village and working alongside the Fijians. Second, it gave mass communication and journalism students a unique hands-on professional opportunity to create a documentary film in an international setting.”

The four mass communication and journalism students are Mike Demmers, Michael Price, Jordan Nicholson and Yvette Mancilla.


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