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Students Gain PR, Diplomacy Skills in Mexico

Emerson College students from various departments are in Rosarito, Mexico, to get real-world experience in public diplomacy and civic engagement by running a public relations campaign for a student film festival in the coastal resort city.

The Rosarito Film Festival, featuring films created by local students of all ages, began in 2008 as part of the Rediscover Rosarito campaign, co-founded by Emerson Communication Studies Chair Gregory Payne to try to combat negative images left by the war on drugs, and revive the tourist industry in this city in the Mexican state of Baja California.

The Rosarito Public Diplomacy Workshop, an annual program that Emerson has offered for nine years, began July 24 at Emerson Los Angeles (ELA), where Payne introduced students to Allison Sampson, ELA’s new director.

Students spent the first week of the workshop networking with alumni and other area professionals, including Wade Williams ’93, E! Network celebrity chef and founder of the soiree planning business PICNIC. Students also met Richard Zaldivar, founder of the Wall Las Memorias, an HIV/AIDS awareness project focused on the Latino community.

After a week in LA, students headed south of the border to start their campaign. While in Rosarito, students are responsible for organizing and promoting the festival by acting as internal and external press contacts, social media coordinators, web content developers, web coordinators, and blog liaisons.

The Rosarito Film Festival takes place Saturday, August 13, at the Rosarito Beach Hotel; the public relations campaign will be showcased at Emerson’s Boston campus in the fall.

While in Mexico, students also are able to learn about various issues from local people and organizations based on their own interests; this year’s topics ranged from health communication to political campaigning. A representative from the Boys and Girls Club of Rosarito spoke to students about the politics of getting the organization started and keeping it going.

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