Between 13th and 21st April 2012, fifteen third-year corporate communications students from Fujairah Women’s College embarked on an international study tour to the UK.
Taking in the cities of Portsmouth and London, the aim of the trip was to expose them to historical and media educational experiences that they will never forget.
They arrived in Portsmouth on April 13 and immediately took part in a historical tour of the old city, guided by Brian and Eileen Granfield, parents of the trip leader Mark Granfield. They went on to visit Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, home to HMS Victory and flagship of Admiral Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
They also visited the birthplace and museum of the revered novelist, journalist and author Charles Dickens before spending two days at the University of Portsmouth’s Department of Creative Technologies.
During the visit they took part in interactive sessions in journalism, television and virtual studio production and music recording. The visit to Portsmouth culminated in a tour of the offices of the local newspaper ‘The News’ which included the print production areas.
After spending five days in Portsmouth the students, Mark Granfield and second chaperone, Fatmah Obaid travelled to London, where their experiences dramatically intensified.
On the first night they had dinner with BBC World News presenter Geeta Guru-Murthy, who was eager to answer the girls’ questions relating to careers in the media industry or journalism. Geeta gave the girls three hours of her time to advise and encourage them on building their future plans.
As one of the highlights of the trip the students were thrilled to spend time with a television personality and receive her inspirational advice.
One of the students, Mozah Rashed said: “It was amazing. We knew it could happen but we never actually thought it would as a real news reader for the BBC must be always in demand. When she sat down at the table with us, at first we couldn’t believe it!”
Later on in the week the students took a tour of the BBC Television Centre in London where they saw the studios where many famous television programs are made. They also took part in an interactive game show and some students had a chance to read the weather. However, after the tour had finished, Mark Granfield and Geeta Guru-Murthy had a surprise planned.
The students were given a private tour of the newsroom at BBC World and BBC News 24, where they watched closely as presenters they recognize from the television, were broadcasting live. During a brief ten minute break, they had the opportunity to walk around the studio set taking pictures and being shown around by one of the BBC News producers.
“I’ve known Geeta for a few years now and I’m thankful to her for helping us organize the newsroom tour,” said Mark Granfield.
“It is not something a group of students generally get to experience so a combination of luck and the generosity of some friends helped tremendously and the girls were just amazed to be there and experience it all. So was I, in a strange way, it always gives you a buzz to be in a newsroom that monitors the globe!”
Aishah Mohamed, another student on the trip said: “We learnt so much from that experience. To think we were walking around the actual news studio that we see on TV in Fujairah and in other places in the world is something I shall never forget.”
While in London, the students were also taken on a sightseeing tour where they rode the London Eye, visited the famous Madame Tussauds waxwork museum and took in Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace.
On the final night, the girls were taken to Shepherd’s restaurant, owned by the actor Michael Caine and a favourite dinner venue for members of parliament. The restaurant comes complete with a bell that tolls when a vote is due in either the House of Commons or House of Lords.
During the dinner the students listened to a lecture by Dr. Tim Evans, a former Director of Public Affairs and Communication with the UK’s Independent Healthcare Association. At the dinner table the students were given some excellent advice on working in the media industry and how to tackle problems that might occur in the world of corporate communication.
Dr. Evans was impressed with the students’ dedication towards their studies. He said, “I felt that they are all a credit to the UAE, and I have every confidence that they will go on to make magnificent careers.”
Mark Granfield was pleased with the way the students handled themselves on the trip saying, “they took responsibility for themselves wonderfully well. They made the trip a success and I was delighted to take them to the UK.”
Fatmah Obaid, second chaperone was also thrilled with the experience of taking the girls abroad. “The trip was fantastic, the girls learnt so much, experienced so much and have brought back to their own country wonderful memories of an educational tour, including meeting and communicating with new people that we all really enjoyed,” she said.
HCT-Fujairah’s Director Dr. Dave Pelham, echoed the words of Mark Granfield and Fatmah Obaid. “These students are now able to apply what they learn in class in very different ways than they could before the trip. Their eyes have also been opened to the world and its possibilities in a very different way,” he said.
HCT-Fujairah would like to thank His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Hamad Bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, Crown Prince of Fujairah for helping to fund this valuable educational tour for the students. The trip also emphasizes HCT-Fujairah’s commitment to offer the very best opportunities for its students.