Two days after the Peace March (see part 1), Meghan Menchhofer (communication, TENL) boarded a plane and flew to Cartagena, Columbia to present at the 2017 International Association of Media and Communications Research (IAMCR) Conference. Menchhofer and Michelle Kelsey Kearl (assistant professor, communication) presented research they conducted on how media impacts Muslim immigrants and refugees, specifically looking at how they resist negative media. This was the first time Menchhofer, Kearl, and Nadia Martínez-Carrillo (assistant professor, communication) had shown anyone the research, and they were pleased by the feedback.
“The presentation went really well. We got great feedback and additional scholarly articles to check out. One Islamophobia scholar complimented the solid research data and methodology we had. It was important that the Muslim community support our research, and they have been—in Fort Wayne and internationally. Two of the women scholars running the IAMCR session were from Pakistan and there were two other Muslims present, all in the field of communication specifically focused on Islam and media. They gave us positive feedback and thanked us for caring about the Muslim immigrant and refugee communities. I felt really good after that presentation”
After the conference, Menchhofer explored more of Columbia. She and Kearl traveled to a colonial-era fortress, the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas. Menchhofer also went snorkeling on the Islas del Rosario with a group of friends she’d met at the IAMCR conference.
But three countries weren’t enough, so Menchhofer headed to Peru for some fun. She visited Lima, Huacachina, Paracas, Arequipa, Nazca, Cusco, Chinchero, and Machu Picchu.
Of course, she could not resist an historical tour of Peruvian slave tunnels. On the tour, Menchhofer and the other tourists experienced tunnels in which African slaves were hidden for weeks so that rich Spanish colonists could avoid taxes. The tour guide had everyone stand inside the tunnel cells. “They were so horrific. The rooms were so small. There were maybe 30 of us and we were touching each other while standing up. The guide told us to imagine spending weeks down here. Imagine no electric, heat, air condition, little food, the dust, insects, and no space to sleep, move, and shower. It was pitch black. I couldn’t even imagine it. They estimated almost 50–100 people crammed into these small rooms.”
So how did these varied experiences affect Menchhofer? “This summer really increased my passion for the research I’m currently conducting and made me think about future research, teaching, and community engagement. We often don’t connect the past to the present even though they are very connected and impact each other in deep ways. It made me want to do all that I can to ensure we don’t forget the past and we learn from it to change the future. We need to educate and research to help prevent these atrocities from repeating in the future and to bring solidarity, justice, and healing to communities these atrocities still impact.”
Do you want to be a world traveler? Go to conferences or research abroad? Menchhofer funded her travels by applying for grants from IPFW’s College of Arts and Sciences, Office of Academic Affairs, Department of Communication, Graduate Student Organization, and the Institute for Research, Scholarship, and Creative Endeavors. Talk to your advisor or faculty mentor to see if there are funding opportunities for your academic adventures.