My visit to Ohio University

Jun 19, 2014

Fasiha Sharif
Credit WVXU, by Mark Heyne

In 1803, Ohio became a state of the union. The next year, the people of the new state were very fortunate, because they lit the candle of education for its people. To develop the Northwest Territory, they founded a college called Ohio University in an isolated area of southeast Ohio. The town of Athens grew up around the new university.  

I was lucky enough to visit the university recently. It is a place that has antique architecture and lush green area all around.

It was a cold day in the summer when I reached the convocation hall in the morning, Animesh, a Ph.D student in the school of media arts and study was my host for the day. The new building of Baker Center may be shocking for those who were the students earlier and use to go to the old Baker Center. The old Baker Center has been converted to the Schoonover Center, home of the College of Communications.

Animesh seemed to be an encyclopedia of Ohio University knowledge. He had all the information about all the sections of the university. He said that it has South, North, West, East and College greens with two gates. One is called Alumni Gate and the other is the Class Gateway. He mentioned that there is always a debate going on that which one is the oldest one. No matter which one is oldest, both were interesting to me because of the architecture.

I had yummy Chai in Baker Center, and got the schedule for the whole day. So we started from the same center. It has four floors with cafeteria and a shop that sells the stuff of the university. I was walking around the Center and observed that everyone wears the shirt of Ohio University and the Bobcat (the sports symbol of Ohio University); it was a catchy thing for me so I also bought one shirt to fit in with the other students.

At Baker Center, students can feel good to have all the information about the campus in that center, because he or she cannot be misguided by anyone. On the ground floor, I saw the banners for the new students and the guidance desk with detailed brochures. Another good thing is a section set aside to entertain visitors.

There is a general perception in Pakistan that every American has a college education.  But I found out differently when I saw a hall where those students can come who are the first college graduates in their families.  It was interesting for me. 

In Peshawar University, my university in Pakistan, we are trying to establish a powerful department for career counseling and we are in the early stages. But I visited a proper center here called Career and Leadership Development Center. Animesh explained that they help students to develop resumes and do mock interviews just to give them confidence to appear in any interview for the job.

I also found a Center for Women and I was surprised to see it as a separate institution. I did not expect to see that. Another good thing for me was to know about the students’ group who are working within the university to keep every student aware that how to be civilized in gatherings. They placed pictures on some small stalls and some indications - in short the do’s and don’ts for a student. In Pakistan we also have some unions of students who struggle to solve the problems of the students. This kind of training is the part of our culture; we learn it in our home.

A section for student government and a theater was also the part of this new center. 

Being a journalist, I wanted to visit the school of journalism and I liked the building of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. You can find a half circle stage on the front of the building from a bit of height; it gives the look of an open theater and I was glad to know that sometimes they put the screen on the wall and play a movie so the students can come and sit on the grass to enjoy it. It sounds great. A building with the name plate Radio and TV building was next to the Schoonover Center College of Communications. It was an old building. Animesh said that they are going to shift the TV classes to the new building. With the passage of time one can realize that to have such infrastructure and facilities it is a development in the field. 

Drew McDaniel who invited me to visit the University, is the Professor and Director for the School of Media Arts and Studies. He came to know about my visit to Ohio from the chairman of Journalism and Mass communication department Dr Altaf Ullah Khan, my professor at University of Peshawar, who was a scholar for a time at Ohio University. The radio setup for the students was very impressive. The students of this department are lucky enough to have a teacher like McDaniel and a complete technologically sound system for the training. The College owns two radio channels - one FM and AM, both with the call letters WOUB and a TV channel with the same name. 

He said that it was a good idea to develop a university in an isolated area of the Northwest Territory. Today, the Scripps school now has five schools of journalism and five centers around the campus, They provide quality education. This university is the ninth oldest university in the United States. 

Helen Mauck Galbreath Memorial Chapel with its tall steeple was established in 1837. It was a place where everyone was allowed to come for the prayer but now they reserved it for some occasions like marriages. On the day I visited, some ladies were decorating the chapel with white net and flowers for a wedding ceremony.

I was amazed to visit Vernon R. Alden Library, which has seven floors with all types of books and a multimedia center. I learned that this university had links with Chubu University in Japan because I saw a separate section of books written in Japanese and the heritage symbols of the Japan too. This gives an impression that this university has international students too because it has a section of center for international collection. They have a display of historical objects from Japan.

I know a library means a place where we can find any book that we want, but this was a bit different because it also has a section of maps. You can find any map that you want; it was quite different and interesting for me. The section of government can provide all the books and journals related to the government of US.

The Charles J.  Ping Student Recreation Center is for those who want to play sports and work out. I felt that all the extra-curricular activities were very good. It has a full-fledged system for that, such as an Olympic-size swimming pool, indoor and outdoor play grounds for the games, which can be a good support for the students of Ohio University.

The School of Arts was a bit different because of music and dance classes, and I was surprised to learn that they offer degrees in the arts. In my country, universities do not offer degrees in things like music and dance. A piano workshop was in progress so we joined them and that was awesome. The boys and girls were playing it very confidently. It helps to encourage the young people to improve their abilities.

In general, every section has a separate building. Interestingly, the style of the buildings look like what we in Pakistan draw in our childhood scenes. We have never been to such buildings but I don’t know how this structure reached to Pakistan and then in the mind of every Pakistani kid.

I felt lucky being able to visit most of the departments in one day, with Mexican food as well. This visit remains my best visit to any international university. And I wish I would be able to do my Ph.D from Schoonover College of Communication.

Fasiha Sharif is a journalist from Pakistan visiting and working in the WVXU newsroom on a three-week assignment. She has been sharing her thoughts here on the WVXU website and doing some on the air reporting.