Fulbright Impact – Luís Santos
 
An interview series by Filipa Dias, Intern at Fulbright (2024)
 
I have always been interested in culture and from my point of view, it is something crucial to our society because it can increase our empathy for the world around us and it can also teach us things, whether it is through media like literature, cinema, or television. To better understand how different people became interested in different fields of culture, how it affected their lives and – most importantly – how the Fulbright Scholarships enabled them to pursue and explore these areas, I was given the opportunity to interview Portuguese and American Fulbrighters who had studied or are currently working in these fields.
 
Filipa had the pleasure to interview Luís Santos, who is an Assistant Teacher in the Department of Sciences of Communication at the University of Minho, Director of Bachelor’s Degree in Sciences of Communication and Deputy-Director of the Center of Communication and Society Studies. In 2019, he participated in the program SUSI Scholars on Journalism and Media.

Here’s the full interview: 

  1. What motivated you to apply to the SUSI Scholars program on Journalism and Media?

Whilst planning the activities of a sabbatical year, I came across this opportunity and thought it would be an interesting challenge. The fact that the program was to be hosted by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism further enhanced that appeal. 

  1. Can you share some highlights or outcomes from your experience in the program?

An experience like this is potentially challenging in academic and professional terms but – given the diverse origin of participants – it also promotes very rewarding interchanges at the personal level. I am grateful for the intense academic program – involving contact with experienced scholars and professionals – the visits to reputed Journalism schools and news outlets but also the unforgettable visits to a native community near the border with Mexico or to Birmingham (and its National Memorial for Peace and Justice). 

  1. How do you think the knowledge and skills you acquired in the SUSI program impacted your work in Portugal?

The opportunity to be in contact with a different academic reality (and also with those of my fellow scholars), with different student engagement techniques, with a dynamic interplay between the Journalism School and the community it serves has surely impacted my work but also my active participation in plans to reorganize our academic programs (Undergraduate and Post-graduate). 

  1. What were the biggest challenges you faced during the SUSI program and how did you overcome them?

The biggest challenges were related to the need to balance my activity-packed days in Phoenix with ongoing professional demands (in Portugal) I could not abandon. Sometimes that meant working longer hours, sleeping much less, or giving up on weekend outings. 

  1. Did you have the opportunity to network with other professionals in the field during the program? If so, what was that experience like?

Yes, very much so. In fact, to this day I still maintain regular contact with most of the people in my cohort, via two very active WhatsApp groups. We exchange cooperation opportunities and, in some cases, we promote joint research initiatives. I met some of them in October 2023, in Florence, during the SUSI Alumni Workshop. 

  1. Looking back, what advice would you give to other Portuguese people who want to apply for similar international programs?

The opportunity to embrace, for a brief but intense period, a part of American academic culture is unmissable. The added opportunity to share that experience with people from very different countries and academic backgrounds is an amazing bonus. On a lighter note, to those applying for the Journalism program in Phoenix I would add that you must be prepared to experience heat like you never did before. It is, in itself, also unforgettable. 

 

Thank you for participating in this series, Luís! We wish you all the best! 

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