Thursday, August 22, 2013

Welcome to Beijing, Lincoln!

By Annetjie van Wynegaard

This Friday Rhodes University and SPI alumnus Lincoln van der Westhuizen will fly to China to start the next two years as a Master’s student in business journalism at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Lincoln has received an all-inclusive scholarship from the Chinese government and this will be his first time in Asia.

Lincoln holds a BA degree in radio journalism and Afrikaans, as well as a postgraduate diploma in media management (PDMM) from the Sol Plaatje Institute for Media Leadership (SPI) at Rhodes University. He heard about the scholarship through the PDMM course at SPI. Director of SPI, Francis Mdlongwa, had sent out an email that Rhodes University is trying to establish a relationship with Tsinghua University with information about the scholarship. He applied for the scholarship, got accepted in June this year, and accepted the offer shortly after.

Lincoln had received a Primedia scholarship for his PDMM year, and since January until the end of July he has been working for Primedia at KFM 94.5 in Cape Town as an online sports journalist. He didn’t take a gap year after school or travelled after university, because he first wanted to have a degree and experience behind his name. He had planned to travel after he obtained his degree, and with this Chinese scholarship, everything has fallen into place for him.

The business journalism MA course accommodates 10 Chinese students and 10 international students from all over the world. He will be staying in the Zijing international student apartment with other international students. There is an internship component to the MA, and Lincoln also plans on taking extra courses to study Mandarin. He said he will take advantage of the opportunity to travel around Asia.

As for his preparation for the trip, he has decided to go in completely blind. “I haven’t looked at anything; I haven’t eaten Chinese food, read Chinese books.” He has, however, been reading up on social media in China, and he said it’s interesting how they do media without any of the tools we use in South Africa, like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Youtube, Flicr, etc. Even Wordpress and Google Docs are banned in China.

Lincoln said his mom’s been sad, because moms are sad, his father’s been stoic, as fathers are, but his family’s been great about his new adventure.

Rhodes University has signed a Memorandum of Intent between the School of Journalism and Media Studies and Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. This memorandum is the result of discussions between representatives of the two institutions at the 2012 Highway Africa conference and at the School of Journalism and Communication at Tsinghua, Beijing, in December 2012. It is the intention of the two schools to explore opportunities for co-operation and student and staff exchanges around the areas of teaching, training and research.


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