Carolina Acosta-Alzuru, a faculty member in UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, discovered a thing or two about herself after recently spending a month in Chile as a Fulbright scholar.
“Distance always elicits reflection,” said Acosta-Alzuru, an associate professor of public relations. “Leading seminars and presentations about my long-time engagement with telenovelas as a research topic and about my teaching further deepened that reflection process. It’s only when you leave your fishbowl that you’re able to understand it and how you swim in it.”
Acosta-Alzuru’s trip was funded by a Fulbright Specialist grant to teach and conduct faculty development activities. The mission of the Fulbright program is to foster international partnerships and mutual understanding between the U.S. and other nations.
“This is important for me, a Venezuelan-American scholar, whose research and teaching are heavily influenced by multiculturalism and a self-awareness of my hybrid identity,” Acosta-Alzuru said.
Hosted by the Universidad de Chile, Acosta-Alzuru taught a graduate seminar on the links between telenovelas, culture and society. She also led a hands-on assignment in an undergraduate course about strategic planning and organizational communication.
In addition to teaching, Acosta-Alzuru gave university-wide and faculty presentations about her research. She also led seminars at Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile and at the Universidad de los Andes.
“I relished the opportunity to talk about my research with Chilean faculty members who are also interested in the study of TV fiction and the links between melodrama and culture,” she said.
Acosta-Alzuru said she gained many insights into the culture of Chile.
“It was my first visit to Chile, so it was a journey of discovery of the city of Santiago and a handful of other Chilean cities, particularly Valparaiso and Vina del Mar,” Acosta-Alzuru said. “Chile is a beautiful country, a nation of poets and writers. I loved visiting it and learned much from the reflections of Chileans about their political past and present.
“It was both enlightening and sad to realize that some of the human rights abuses that occurred during Chile’s military dictatorship already are happening in my native Venezuela, under an authoritarian socialist government,” she added.