Student Committed to Bridging Cultures

Posted on: February 11, 2014

merinda-bali-webFor many 5 year olds, eating and playing are the number one activities, but for Merinda Valley, a trip to the Solomon Islands after her kindergarten year ignited a passion inside her.

She said she "developed an understanding of global inequalities from that trip, and quickly developed the idea that (she) could have a hand in correcting injustices...(by informing)...others of their existence."

A junior double majoring in journalism and Arabic, Valley's goal is to some day work as a foreign correspondent and "travel the world while telling the stories of its people." But first she wants to study in Egypt for a year before graduating, then serve in the Peace Corps and "write in many different capacities before finding (her) journalistic niche."

Valley already is well on her way. Not only has she worked as a reporting intern for a public broadcasting station, she also was involved with the creation of the "100 Questions and Answers about Americans," the second book in the series of cultural competence guides produced by Joe Grimm, visiting editor in residence for the School of Journalism, and the students in his Bias Busters class.

In spring 2013, Grimm launched the Bias Busters course where students create cultural competence guides with the goal of using journalism to replace bias and stereotypes with information and to encourage conversation among people.

Along with 15 other students, Valley interviewed various international students and learned in 77 days how to format and edit 15 voices into one coherent voice. The project not only enhanced her journalistic and communication skills but also introduced the technical factors of creating a book.

"I learned about various aspects of publishing, including the innovative software our publisher used that allowed us to publish the guide on every platform, digital and print, at once," Valley said.

Now with her experience in co-authoring, Valley is setting out, with the help from Grimm and MSU's Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives, to write her own book that she describes as "a facilitator's manual that will offer advice on starting conversations across cultural, regional and ideological boundaries."

"I never imagined that I'd be doing something so relevant to my journalism career as a junior in college," Valley said, "so I am extremely grateful for this opportunity."

Valley encourages other students to "pursue your dreams with passion and make no excuses for doing so. You can only achieve if you are invested in your goals and unwaveringly certain that you have the ability to accomplish them."

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