Loyola University Chicago

School of Communication


New Chile Study Abroad Class Teaches Digital Storytelling

New Chile Study Abroad Class Teaches Digital Storytelling

By Emily Olsen, SOC Website Reporter

Study abroad can be a life-changing experience for students, but it’s out of reach for those who don’t have the time or money to dedicate to a semester outside of Chicago.

The School of Communication hopes a new, short-term study abroad in Santiago, Chile will give more students a chance to study abroad and hone storytelling techniques in a whole new environment.

The two-week course this May allows students to visit Santiago, partner with a student from nearby Universidad Alberto Hurtado and create their own video documentary in a Digital Storytelling course taught by John Goheen, an SOC instructor who teaches video and documentary production courses.

“We really believe study abroad is a fantastic thing to do if you can,” said School of Communication Dean Don Heider.

Though Loyola has offered its own study abroad programs in Europe and Asia, this is one of the first programs offered in South America. Students could benefit from learning more about the countries on the nearest continent to our own, said Heider. Though it’s not required for the program, many students also have skills that would aid them in Chile like the ability to speak Spanish.

“I think students need to learn more about Central and South America because of our proximity and their growing role in global culture,” said Heider.

Nearby Jesuit university Universidad Alberto Hurtado has partnered with study abroad programs in the past and now will directly pair a journalism student from their university with Loyola students during the program.

These students will help translate, pitch story ideas and help produce their documentary, said Goheen.

“You have to research and enterprise a story that you can do in Santiago related to some sort of social issue,” said Goheen, “You would relying heavily on your counterpart in Santiago to give you ideas.”

Goheen said some ideas for stories could be illegal immigration from Haiti, graffiti and even large amounts of stray dogs that roam the city.

(John Goheen, was among the hundreds of journalists in Haiti covering the massive earthquake in 2010. A photojournalist, Goheen understands the impact of visual story telling.

While much of the time in Santiago would be spent working on their stories, students would also get the opportunity to take bike tours of the city, go to marketplaces, visit historic Catholic churches and go visit a vineyard outside of Santiago.

“It really fulfills that desire to experience something outside the U.S. You’re getting class credit, you’re getting international experience and it helps you get some experience of what it’s like in the real world without having to be away for three or four months,” said Goheen

Students need previous production experience to prepare them for the course and scholarships are available for interested students.

“It’s hard to imagine any student who wouldn’t go and benefit from it,” said Heider, “It’s hard to pick up a camera and go out on the streets of Chicago and find a story. To then do that in another country is a whole other challenge. Once you’ve done that and accomplished it, you’ll really feel confident in your ability to tell a story.”