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Toru, MA ’16, reflects on Rosarito, Mexico experience

Maria Toru

Maria Toru, MA '16, was a project manager of the Rosarito (Mexico) Film Festival in August. (Photo by Dan O'Brien)

Maria Toru, MA ’16, has an enthusiastic look on the new academic year.

Fresh off her summer studying in Emerson’s Rosarito Public Diplomacy Workshop, which brings students to Emerson College Los Angeles and Rosarito, Mexico, the Communication Management graduate student called it “an amazing, amazing cultural exchange and experience.”

“We all worked so hard and it paid off so well,” said Toru, who attends Emerson on a Fulbright Scholarship from Pakistan. “It was unbelievable to see how everybody kept improving.”

Led by Communication Studies Department Chair Gregory Payne, four Emerson students and a fifth from Lake Erie College attended the first portion of the course at Emerson Los Angeles, where they listened to several guest speakers who work in the communications and diplomacy fields.

The group then traveled to Rosarito, in the Baja California state of Mexico, where they worked on the Rediscover Rosarito public relations initiative, which included organizing the seventh annual Rosarito Film Festival in August.

Several of the artists who participate in the festival regularly visit Emerson as part of the Baja to Boston program.

Rosarito Film Festival 2015

Participants of the 2015 Rosarito Film Festival. (Courtesy Photo)

Payne has had strong ties to the Rosarito community for about a decade, working with local officials to increase tourism in the beach community.

Toru served as a project manager for the film festival.

“It was the first time I had complete ownership of a project,” she said. “It was stressful, but that wasn’t a bad thing.”

Toru and the students had to secure press coverage, build a website, and do several other logistical tasks under tight deadlines, which pushed them out of their comfort zones.

She said fellow student Yu “Irene” He ’17, has a quiet personality, but “she learned to ask for help. She went right to the source…if she had to.”

The other Emerson students in the group were Michael Whitecar, MA ’16, and Si Chen, MA ’16.

“Working on such a project from start to end—from the ideas to execution to planning—is very good for my portfolio,” said Toru, who added that it’s important for her to succeed after graduation.

“I am on a Fulbright Scholarship here. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to afford this degree,” she said. “I’m not going to squander it by watching Netflix at home.”

Toru serves as vice president of Emerson’s Graduate Student Association.

“The students did a terrific job once again this year,” Payne said. “It always brings me joy to see their enthusiasm and effort in keeping this important public diplomacy program going.”

Learn more about Emerson’s study abroad programs on the website for the Office of Internationalization and Global Engagement

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