Duke Students Abroad Start Communications Club


Duke Students Create a New Communications Club in Italy
Duke students, Katherine Reed and Kali Shulklapper, help create a new academic club, The Umbra Voice, for journalism and communications studies at the Umbra Institute, in Italy.

Thumbnail During their first few months in Italy, two Duke students, Katherine Reed and Kali Shulklapper, showed strong interest in the arts of journalism and communication and their academic curiosity led to the inspiration and creation of The Umbra Voice, a new journalism and communications club at the Umbra Institute in Perugia, Italy. The Umbra Voice’s mission is “To encourage a community of expression and open communication that inspires creativity and intercultural competence among the Umbra student body” through presentations made by prominent figures in Italian media and communications industries, followed by active discussion and debate between club workshop participants.

Katherine and Kali have been dedicated to the club since its beginning. They collected signatures from interested students and participated in multiple meetings in order to formally propose the club and its functions, plan this semester’s meetings, and develop an outline for the Spring 2016 semester meetings and workshops. “This club provides students with a way to integrate Italian news culture into their own while integrating themselves into the local community outside of the classroom setting,” said Kali, during a meeting in which the format of club meetings and workshops was discussed.

Academic clubs invigorate communities of students across the United States, yet they are not an aspect of the Italian education system. Seeing as Umbra represents a lively blend of the American and Italian cultures, the club’s founders are now seeking to share an element of intellectual inspiration, which has strongly influenced their educational career, with their Italian peers.  This is seen as a way to further blend the two cultures and to give back to the inviting Italian community through collaboration and growth as a result of intercultural exchange.

Due to Katherine and Kali’s highly-motivated efforts, the month of November saw the first ever Umbra Voice workshop that invited the student body to gather together and discuss the implications of Brand Journalism in both the News and Marketing industries, according to its current use in both Italy and the United States. Then, on December 1st, the club was visited by Dr. Antonella Valoroso, whose background includes extensive experience in both national and international writing and reporting. Dr. Valoroso presented the perception of the news media in Italy using examples of the perception of American politics in Italy on the day of President Obama’s first election in 2008. 

“This club gives us the unique opportunity to discuss writer’s bias and its relevance in international communities, it lets us ask questions about the relevance of modern news culture and modern communication issues, all while giving a voice for students to share their experience and their time abroad with a group of like-minded individuals, as well as society outside the Umbra Institute,” says Katherine as she discusses how she views the future of the club.