Around The World

International Communication Concentration

Temple University, July 2015.

New York. South Africa. Peru.

The School of Media and Communication at Temple University Study Away Program has introduced to me that the world is bigger than Philadelphia. There will be parts that you love and parts that you do not, but you have to explore to find out.

Stand Up, Be Confident, And Move

The “Around The World,” component was initiated in Spring of 2015. I became the recipient The Lew Klein in the Media Award, The Gilman Scholarship, and The Study Away Scholarship. These all pushed me to realize that my philosophy to life has to embrace the global aspect, as I completed the rest of my requirements to fulfill my International Communication Concentration. Also, view photos of students who traveled, “Across The World,” wearing JMD Gear.

Most recent trip is posted first:


If I had to pick one thing that made the most impact on me while in Peru it would be volunteering with teen mothers in a shelter. 



I was more moved by traveling through the city conversing with Peruvians over being in the classroom. In addition to that amazing experience, I was completely blown away by my volunteer opportunity. Before ending my volunteer opportunity with the young ladies, I launched, “Mi Casa Ayudando Su Casa,” or “My House Helping Your House,” where Americans donated funds to me, so that I could go to the market to purchase necessities for the young children and their mothers. During my time volunteering, I noticed that there was a low supply on shampoo, diapers, and toilet paper, so these were the main items that I purchased with the money. All in all, Peru has not only taught me how to value the life that I was given, but it has prepared me for any decision that I decide to make next from pursuing my Masters Degree in Public Administration or continuing My House Helping Your House.



Gilman Scholarship:

If there was one thing I could not go without in Peru it would be support. I gained support from my family, my university, and outside scholarships naming me a, “Gilman Recipient.” Many of us believe that we cannot travel the world because it is too much money. Come join me in discussing how, “The Gilman,” made the difference between whether I would stay home or if I could travel.

New York City

Life is not solely about having dreams – it’s about pursuing them.

As a Communication Studies Major, my goal is to work in New York City after my graduation in 2015. My interests are broadcasting, advertising, and media production. Many have told me that I have a radio personality, so lets see where that lands me. Since New York City is very diverse, I know that I can improve as a Spanish speaker in the community, which will connect me with my roots. Now, while studying in Spanish Harlem, I use my basic skills to talk to different people in the area and have been successful thus far. As I am studying away in New York City, I thought I might pitch a couple pointers that can better help you, when you are in specific areas of the city. And no, if you have only been to Times Square … let’s just say you have barely gotten the drift of what New York truly is. This is my first time living in Brooklyn, New York and through this experience I know that I will become a better student, mother, and professional. In everything that I do in New York, I will serve a purpose and deliver to you the meaning at the end of each trial. You never know what rules you will need to help you conquer the city that literally NEVER sleeps, so keep up on Mommy J’s NY Times. I hope you are enlightened by what I’ll have to share.

In front of the NBC Logo, acting like a tourist.

5 Tips from Mommy

  1. Don’t act like you are a tourist. Apparently, New Yorkers hate tourist. When you stop in the fast paced city to take pictures it becomes very annoying. If you act free and cordial you will feel more welcomed. If you look like a tourists and act lost, you will get hustled out of your money and will have instant headaches, as people breeze past the portrait you have been attempting to take for five minutes or so.
  2. No walking and texting. As you may already know, New York is always filled from curb to curb with people. If you are walking and texting, not only will you miss out on the side walk performances or walk past a famous person or two, you will be ran over. Literally, the odds of you walking through the city of New York without getting shoved a couple times is unreal. Put your phone down and enjoy New York to get the full picture for yourself, something that commercial and pictures cannot give you. 147 newyork timessquare feature
  3. Get out of Times Square. (Quick dialogue with Dr. Gratson, my mentor/professor for my Experience New York course) “Raise your hand if you been to New York” 20/20 people raise their hands, “Now raise your hand if you been out of Times Square,” 3/4 of the students put their hands down immediately. Sorry to spoil your beliefs, but if you have only been to Times Square … you know nothing about New York and you have a long way to go. Times Square was built to attract toursits and for this reason it has NO soul. I have recently spent time in Spanish Harlem and the residents there hold the history behind this city. On the other hand, the retail manager at the GAP can only tell you the Ruby Tuesdays and the huge Forever 21 locations. Another thing is, when you begin to make friends in New York, you will notice that New Yorkers hardly ever go into the city. It is so much to enjoy in the five boroughs, (Manhattan, The Bronx, Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Queens) that a New Yorker doesn’t need to go to Times Square to have a good time. This behavior is similar to Philadelphia, where people hardly go to the gallery or liberty place on their leisure. 
  4. Don’t drive or catch a cab. Besides the fact that it may take an hour or so to get to your destination, being in a car in New York is SCARY especially, if you haven’t been in New York before. Driving: NO one is patient behind the wheel in New York. It seems as if people don’t have lanes when they are driving. You have to be highly qualified to drive in New York because people hardly use turning signals and no one wants to get in a car accident, just because one is deciding whether he/she should turn or not. Cabs: So, not knowing how far two boroughs were from one another, I caught a cab from Crown Heights (Brooklyn) to Astoria (Queens). Now, Brooklyn alone is bigger than Philadelphia. The cab ride came up to about $50 and it took longer than catching the train. New Yorkers are use to paying that for cabs, but coming from Philadelphia, people complain about paying $15, for driving the same amount of distance. Just use your metro card (which is now a dollar, but you can refill it. Personally, even though a fare is more than Philadelphia’s Septa or other states public transportation, I know you can get more out of it)

    With Leon Robinson, while he was shooting for his new video in Washington Square Park on June 15, 2013. I filmed a short clipping, lets await to see if my scene makes the cut. You all may recognize him from The Temptations or Little Richard.
  5. Network and smile while doing so. New York, money, dreams, and lights all coincide. More people live in New York, now a days, behind career reasons. You never know who you will be sitting next to on the train, neither do you know when you will be able to slide a famous person your business card. Why is New York the place for you? My professor, Dr. Gratson (Temple Univerity) challenged me to decide whether I could form a relationship with New York City. If you can’t then maybe its just not for you; however, as you explore and become a product of the environment, people will notice your confidence, charisma, and character, which can all contribute to endless opportunities. These are tips that helped me blossom and I am sure that if you follow them on your own pace, you too will bloom in the city. Therefore, I wish you nothing, but a rocky path as your journey begins in the city. Once your path becomes smooth, then congratulate yourself sugar, you will be considered a New Yorker.

As I continue to give you the ‘in and outs,’ depending on my experience in New York, I hope that you keep an open mind and decide to visit New York soon. If you are a student at Temple University, considering the study away program, let me be the one to tell you that there is nothing to consider. Your college experience will definitely be one to remember and brag about, once you decide to study away or abroad. I understand that you may want to enjoy your summer, be back home, or make money to work; however, I must say I feel more confident, as a future profession, after sacrificing everything to be here. (New York City Study Away completion Summer 2013) You will be able to understand why, as I feel you in on my journey. Lets go.

Passports And Community Project 


This is a picture of my personal scrap book. On this page, I will bring my scrap book to life, the best of my capability. Don’t hesitate to ask to see it, if you run into me. It’s small and brief to accommodate for the FAST LIFE of a New Yorker, who is on a journey of their own. Dr. Gratson has the students doing passport and/or stream assignments, so that we can log our feedback, while we explore New York, on our own or as a group. #SMCSTUDYAWAY #Temple

Passports are the more general formatting for your explorations. When doing your passports, you can visit a restaurant or simply study the street corners, in a selective borough. You will then break down the reaction you had, the love, the differences, and basically describe your experience/mindset that you had at that very moment. Streams are a tab bit different. In a stream, Dr. Gratson supplies students with different areas of study, so that each student can check out the oldest, newest, or even most expensive shops throughout Manhattan. For example, there is a deli stream and coffee stream that seemed to be really popular. You are expected to describe your experience in your logs, after visiting specific listed shops. I must say, because I did passports, it was interesting hearing people experiences at the coffee shops. I enjoy the stream/passport portion of the course, since it forces you to get up and venture through the city. Besides, if it hadn’t been for my passport assignments, I would not had the opportunity to intern with the famous Fire Department of New York’s Press Office. More importantly, before I begin to share a couple of my experiences, I think it was important to explain why and what these two important things are, so you can better understand my studies. When it is your turn to study away, you will hear about these passports often. 



In a city that is so fast paced, there is no time to take two. I have learned from my experiences that your dreams can come true, but you have to be willing to sacrifice sleep, throw away the shyness in your personality, and go for all that you want with no hesitation. My summer, studying away in in New York city, started off rocky and like most I hesitated when it was time to catch the train to different places; yet, that never stopped me from getting off at random stops to see the different areas. Three months later, I move faster than most, as I breeze through the hundreds of people awaiting on the long platforms. So, as I continue to give you insight and suggestions to New York City, keep in mind that the city never sleeps and I am still a new comer to New York. I am not giving you advice from anywhere. I am telling you things that I too had to overcome. My pictures of my explorations are not filtered because I want you to get the real image of where I had been, so you can identify these same spots once you come to the city. Anything that I have done is something that you can too, as long as you are willing to put the same amount of effort into your journey.


Spanish Harlem pays high respect to Ernesto Antonio a.k.a “Tito Puente”. Tito Puente was a famous Latino musician who resided in Spanish Harlem. He represented for the community tremendously and now has a block named after him. Tito Puente’s name is on all of the street corners of E. 110 st. R.I.P Tito Puente (4.20.1923 – 5.1.2000)

Although I got a chance to get a visual of every borough in bits and pieces, my main area of focus was Spanish Harlem. For several reasons, I had decided that Spanish Harlem was the best place for me to begin my adventures in New York City. I wanted to broaden my understanding of the culture and everyday life in such a live community. I am of culture and knew I would feel at home once I entered the community, but I wanted to feel the connection that mi abuela felt once she moved to New York from Puerto Rico in the late 1950’s. Spanish Harlem, years back, was known for its loud music, culture, and delicious Spanish meals. I must say the residents are doing a great job of keeping the culture alive. Spanish Harlem is also known as East Harlem. The famous name for that East side of the borough is also called El Barrio. As the communities begin to integrate more and more over the years, the name tends to change because the culture in the area seems to shift. Although this is true, the people who call Spanish Harlem home explain that no matter how many changes take place in their projects, store fronts, and schools, the East side of Harlem will always remain Spanish Harlem at heart.

In the community you will notice two things about the street corners.The first thing that caught my eye in the community was the rich artistic graffiti on the streets of Spanish Harlem. They were not only attached to the prideful culture of what it is to be Puerto Rican, but the art form was highly appreciated by those who call this community home. The art on the street corners show and tell stories that give Spanish Harlem life and soul. These street corners differ from Manhattan and even the part of Brooklyn where I live (Crown Heights).


The second thing I noticed in the streets of Spanish Harlem was that there is most likely a store on every corner. Coming from a neighborhood that suffered from poverty, I always appreciated our corner stores. Growing up and getting exposed to a different lifestyle, however, showed me that, where the grass was greener, ” in suburban communities, there is only one to knowingly none of these family owned corner stores in walking distance. I believe I know the purpose of this, but after seeing it in Spanish Harlem too, I will research into it a little bit more. On a brighter note, it is nice to see people in the community owning and supporting small business owners.

IMG_6771 IMG_6776

“It is more expensive to go to school on the West Side. I love Spanish Harlem because my friends are on this side. My mom works over here and even though I love my home, I have more fun on this side.”

                                           – Abou Diabate, 9

St. Ann’s

Children were all over the streets of Spanish Harlem. It’s a very popular park on 114th and 1st. Many Children do not go there often because it is more convenient to play in the playground located in the center of their community projects. All of the children were dressed in play clothes, sweats and t-shirts. It seems as if the park is a daily activity for them all. Not too many parents were outside, but an older child insisted that all the parents look out of their window to check on the kids frequently. The children were very comfortable with their surroundings. They seemed more safe than I was. I have a firm belief that they will grow up like Mr. Nahree Haynes, who spoke to me about the fashion and housing in the community. Mr. Haynes was a construction worker in the community, he is originally from Queens, but that has nothing to do with his unexpected love for the East side, from working there day to day he calls it his second home. The children were diverse in the playground, which will continue to grow larger. Surprisingly, from the looks of it, there seemed to be less Latinos if anything. Despite that, the culture of the Spanish is still alive.

Courtesy of Empire Guides ©

As I had been exploring Spanish Harlem on June 11, 2013, Fire Department Egnine 91 had been celebrating their 100th year of service. Current firefighters gave quick remarks on how important serving in such a community meant to them. Although, lots of fire firefighters were originally from different places in New York, they had gained the same love for the community from their work, like Mr. Haynes had. A common pattern for the residents, who have not grown up there, were that they had a home in Spanish Harlem that could never be replaced. Through my studies, I could tell exactly what they were talking about because I began to feel the same way. Surprisingly, following 9/11, New York City Firefighters were not frightened by what their duty was. They remained strong and still have one goal in place, and that is to protect all the New Yorkers from fires.

Spanish Harlem, through my service, has made me appreciate the community more than I had ever expected. The people in the community respect us for fighting fires, but I respect the people in the community for keeping our home clean, safe, and alive. Serving people like this makes my job more valuable.

Ryan McFadden

Engine 91; Firefighter

IMG_8205The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them … and yet … go out to meet it. This is what New York is about! New York is filled with people. People who all have a dream that they are trying to make reality. People are in New York with expectations to do amazing things and what they have in mind want they want to do, but if you do not get up and DO THEM, then you will not be able to benefit from what New York has to offer you.

I just explained to you how I randomly came across Engine 91’s Centennial Celebration, but I left one very phenomenal piece out from that afternoon. While at the Firehouse, I continuously  expressed my purpose for the summer and my eagerness to be in the communications field following my graduation. Soon later, I was offered an intern position in the FDNY Headquarters Public Information/Press Office. If this does not inspire you to go after what ever you want, I am not sure what will. New York has allowed me to validate that I have the potential to not only succeed in my field, but that imaginations do come true. New York, for me had only been a dream, but as of today it is my home away from home. If as a rising junior, I am capable of getting up and shaking hands of highly experienced and educated individuals in my field, then anyone can do it. In this city, there is no time to second guess where it is that you want to be. You have to just go for what you want and even if it doesn’t work out the first time, at least you know that you have not wasted any time. My apologies Philadelphia, but I have been walking the streets of my hometown with the same eagerness to succeed for plenty years, this opportunity has never been opened to me. For that, I must say New York is still the city for endless opportunities, where anyone, of any color, age, and gender, can be exposed to bigger and better things. My access has been granted in New York City!

5 Tips from Mommy

IMG_87441. Do not be scared. Everyone in New York is not from New York. I came to this city thinking that I would be the only one lost or out of place. Reality is, you are NOT the only person trying to pursue your dreams here. Being scared will get you no where! Instead of going home on your leisure from school breaks or on the weekends, go enjoy a free Ferry ride or stop pass the Summer Stage in Central Park. 

2. Be Patient. Although I wish it was, nothing about New York is going to be “easy breezy.” That is just reality. No matter how well you know what you are doing or even if you are pretty confident that your subway app will successfully get you from Queens to Brooklyn, New York will still be a headache at times. Plenty of my out-of-state friends visited over the weekends and it was a bit hilarious how impatient they seemed to be frustrated during our travels. New York’s subway platforms are long and you will have to walk up about 3 or 4 flights of stairs before you reach above ground, it’s okay. Appreciate that these type of things make New York what it is. Once you have been here for more than a month, you will be one of those people “New York walking” through Times Square just to go in the Gap or Forever 21 for a cute outfit. Once you gain the patience  to maneuver through the traffic that New York has, you will be able to deal with traffic anywhere. 

3. Take Advantage and Sleep Less. Stores are open later, clubs do not close at 2a.m. and specific libraries are even open on Sundays. I cannot express enough that this city in facts NEVER SLEEPS. These are a few more things that you need to take advantage of in New York. I will never walk to the store in another city at 12a.m. and feel as safe as I do, while I am in New York. At 12a.m. the city of Brooklyn still operates as if it was 6p.m. (We already know Manhattan does) I could have slept through these types of things, but I didn’t. Following my arrival to Brooklyn, I changed my whole usual daily schedule. Don’t get me wrong, I still always got a good night’s rest, but I know that physically and mentally I needed to act like a New Yorker, rather than an out-of-stater. Before you leave the city, go to the market at 1 in the morning and shop in Times Square at 2:30 in the morning. You will wish you had this type of access in your hometown, trust me I am going through it now. ghfiuag

4. Be Confident, Not Intimidated. Since there are more people in the city attempting to pursue their dreams, there is going to be more competition. This is what makes New York city exciting. You will run into people who will know the city better than you do. Do not let this discourage you, challenge yourself. Dr. Gratson told us that we were not allowed to use our popular phone apps to guide us throughout the city, so even though most did, I didn’t. I must say that this was the best advice that I had was given. I am now capable of walking into any subway station, after my random walks around the different boroughs, and still able to get home with no problem. There will also seem to be times where everyone is completing their goals besides you. This just means that you have not fully gained the New York mentality. That is okay too. I had been told several times that New Yorkers do not appreciate their own land because they do not realize how fortunate of a city New York truly is. Figure out where you need to be and what you need to do to WIN. I assure you that once you put these things into place, everything will be okay. IMG_9250

5. Make Friends. “Hey New Friends!” It is always nice to meet new people in different places. Not only will this take away your home sickness, but it will add to you being a New Yorker. I always appreciate how welcoming the people are on my block. Meeting new friends gives you something to look forward to when you just want to relax on the stoop. Although I do not get a chance to converse with my neighbors too often, friends are always helpful. They share things with me that Google or my mom back home cannot. They save the stress of deciding what nailery or barbershop to visit and they all give me plenty of insight on the block that I have chose to live on. Besides, if you want to live in a city to pursue your dreams, support and acceptance will be a great asset to your relocation. Say hello, and enjoy the quick conversations after a long day of work, not on your phone … face to face with your neighbors. 

 South Africa

Life is not solely about having dreams – it’s about pursuing them.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done”

Temple South Africa Summer 2014

Johannesburg (Gauteng Province) is the city of South Africa where I will be spending my month of exploration. It is the largest city of South Africa.
Mother Africa; Artist – Ben Heine

I am in South Africa as a journalist, in order to enhance my writing skills. It has been my decision to document stories revolved around teenage parenting. Both of my articles and short video will be geared around how we can motivate and encourage young mothers to use the resources around them, with the mindset to not only stay in school, but for successful longevity. I will highlight organizations that provide assistance for young parents, so that South African mothers can reach out to an organization for possible mentorship. On the other hand, I will step into the shoes of struggling teen mothers so that I can get a drift of the differences and similarities that are faced in South Africa and back in United States (specifically Philadelphia; where I can relate). It is in my hopes to one day inspire young mothers to remain driven, after giving birth. I do not advocate young ladies to conceive, but I believe that someone has to help the mothers who already crossed the line into adulthood from giving birth early. The gap needs to be filled between struggling mothers and successful mothers. Some young mothers are educated enough to take advantage of system programs and support, yet, there are others who are not advantaged. If I can help one mom, that one mom can help someone else; this is the type of cycle that needs to begin.

Written while I was conducting my research 


Teen Pregnancy Relegates Young Moms to Poverty

TEENAGE PARENTING is not a contagious disease and should not keep young mothers from completing their education.

Yet in South Africa, girls face eviction from school after becoming pregnant because that is the cultural norm.

Many in South Africa believe that mothers should care for their homes. So despite rights established postapartheid, allowing all South Africans to receive an equal education, having a child can prevent a teen mother from completing high school.

Without a high school degree, teen mothers are virtually frozen from the job market, relegating them to lives of poverty.

In Mabopane, a township 18 miles outside Pretoria, the treatment of teen mothers is typical of what they face in South Africa.

At the local high school, where students in one class can range from 14 to 18, teachers said they believe all students should receive an education. But they contend that pregnant teens should not attend class with younger students, who are not pregnant and are not parents, because it is a bad influence.

One teacher suggested that young mothers “need a special school of their own.”

Despite their challenges, there is a beacon of hope for teen mothers in Mabopane. A faith-based community empowerment organization called Lesedi La Batho has begun to provide free child care, allowing teen mothers to attend school.

The organization works from the premise that all teen mothers deserve an education and should not face discrimination in continuing their education.

“Women are the most important part of this country,” said Chrisna Groenewald, managing director of Lesedi, adding that if the community can be a help to the women, then success will surely follow.

Yet another blessing, the link to this article is also below. It has been 10448238_796896873661950_7373581220153743025_nmy honor to work with Linn Washington (Faculty member of the South Africa program) and Temple’s SMC Study Away Program, which resulted in myself and 8 of my classmates getting our articles produced in the Daily News.

I had the beautiful blessing of traveling South Africa, along with 10 other Temple University students. One of them in particular, Cambriae Bates, has been by my side, while I encouraged teen mothers through my story. Bates is the author of blog and she decided to publish a short article on witnessing the impact and connection that I made on young South African mothers.

photo (12) copy 2
Durrant & Bates exploring Melville Koppies

Our motto when traveling to Johannesburg, South Africa was to not only learn about South Africa, but to learn ‘from’ South Africa. After our departure, all of us students from Temple University felt that we had accomplished our goal. However Janice Durrant, a senior at Temple University’s School of Media and Communications, accomplished so much more. She discovered that she had a knack for motivational speaking and uplifting young people.

Janice became a teen mom at the age of 15 and her goal while in South Africa was to write a piece on teenage pregnancy. As she interviewed young mothers and researched information she discovered that the ethics of journalism were being pushed aside because she had a stronger calling. As she continued to talk to young girls she became an inspiration. I watched her as she spread her motto to “Stand-up, Be Confident and Move!”

Rose and Rosetta; South African teen mothers

One day while she was interviewing a set of twins, who both had children at the age of 14, I began to cry along with everyone else in the room. Janice reached out for the hands of the twin young mothers and told them that she understood their struggle. She emphasized the importance of them going back to school and that when their children started walking, the twins also had to get up and start walking. The twin sisters embedded her motto in their brains and when asked to repeat it they did so verbatim.

Not only did Janice inspire girls on a one-on-one level — like those twins in the Troyeville section of Johannesburg, she also was invited to speak to a group of teenagers in two different locations in Mabopane -a rural township over 80-miles north of Johannesburg. One of these locations was Mabopane High School. When asked how she felt about the experience she said, “It’s an indescribable feeling. I feel so honored to have had an affect on these girls that look like me, who are going through some of the same things I went through. I’m so grateful to be able to help them realize that this is not the end.”

Cambriae Winifred Bates

Temple University

School of Media and Communication

“I gained more of a foundation for those who

are lacking necessities in life. Not all individuals

without are lazy; sometimes they are stuck.”

– Janice M. Durrant


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