"Long live the Travel Grants Initiative!"

travel journal

Chikezie Emmanuel Uzuegbunam from Nigeria received an IAMCR travel grant to present his paper in the Popular Culture Working Group at IAMCR's 2014 conference in Hyderabad. Following the conference, he wrote this letter to IAMCR members.

I am a young academic with Nnamdi Azkiwe Univeristy, Awka in Nigeria – a developing country in Sub-Saharan Africa. I have a Masters degree in Mass Communication. I have always been desirous of making my mark in the field of communication. Though I have attended some local conferences in Nigeria, I have always wished for more. I thought the global scene holds more for a young, passionate academic like me. But how to access such global visibility remained an illusion until this year.

My mentor and postgraduate research supervisor, Kate Azuka Omenugha, a long-time member of IAMCR introduced the association to me. In 2012, we both wrote a paper for the Durban conference, but I wasn’t able to attend owing to my inability to carry the financial burden. She however attended and presented the paper on our behalf. Last year, 2013, our abstract was also accepted for the Dublin conference. This time, she didn’t attend because of busy schedules and I couldn’t make it yet again; neither did our paper.

This year, 2014, I finally summoned the ‘courage’ to heed my mentor’s advice to join IAMCR. I have always thought the process for becoming member is a big deal. Now I know better. By this time also, we submitted an abstract for the Hyderabad conference. Thankfully, the abstract was accepted and I was invited to present it. At about this same time also, I came across the news on the IAMCR Travel Grant application. I thought I wasn’t qualified to apply because I hadn’t been member for a full year. With another push from my mentor, I decided to apply anyway. A few days later, my application was returned POSITIVE! I was one of the 25 early-stage scholars from low and middle-income countries to be awarded a grant. My joy knew no bounds. Finally I was going to attend my first international conference! And the rest, as they say, is history. I finally submitted my full paper on the deadline and Nico Carpentier, IAMCR Treasurer wrote me at once. A few days later, the grant was deposited to my local account. This went a long, long way to enable me attend IAMCR 2014.

Presenting my paper, Framing of western identities in Nigerian home movies: A critical discourse analysis of select Nollywood movies, in the Popular Culture Working Group was a most fulfilling moment and dream. What strikes me about IAMCR is the ease, the conviviality and the very welcoming atmosphere in place to accommodate even young scholars like us. It was amazing seeing the enthusiasm with which some senior colleagues and even the IAMCR Executive members I had opportunity of meeting at Hyderabad, received me and indicated interest to keep in touch.

Indeed, all the fears, anxiety and the feelings of inadequacy at the thought of attending an International Conference by the preeminent IAMCR, vanished within a day or two after my arrival.
Not only was my paper well received, I met and interacted and exchanged contacts with wide-ranging scholars from around the world. The new perspectives, the experiences and the wide-ranging knowledge I took away from the plethora of sessions will remain a huge part of my work from now on. Indeed, this conference and of course, joining IAMCR will surely go down my memory as one of the best things to have happened to me in this early stage of my academic career.

Finally, I would also like to offer many thanks to IAMCR for giving me this opportunity of being on the way to fulfilling my dream of global visibility. Special thanks to the current Executive Board led by Janet Wasko and of course, to Nico Carpentier the treasurer for being so terrific with the whole process and for keeping with IAMCR’s tradition of helping early-stage scholars from developing countries, find global relevance.

Long live IAMCR!

Long live the Travel Grants Initiative!!

Chikezie Emmanuel Uzuegbunam
Assistant Lecturer, Department of Mass Communication
Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka – Nigeria

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