Better (than I could ever imagine!)

RH5

In the summer of 2015, it’s not surprising that when you’re due to begin a placement in the industry you’ve been studying in and things don’t appear to be falling into their perfect place – panic begins to kick in.

Yes a placement year in CAM is optional, but when you’re as super unsure about what direction to steer your life in as I was, all practical experience is welcome.

Amidst floods of tears and feelings of failure I couldn’t help but hold on to the ounce of optimism I had when I chatted with friends and they encouraged me that perhaps it was because there was something better “just around the corner.”

However, that little glimmer of hope was immediately disseminated with my instant response of doubt and disbelief “It’s a pretty BIG darn corner!”

*sigh*

A little patience goes a long way.

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Looking back, I’m sure being patient was the last thing I had in mind (and I’m sure my parents can vouch for that!) but looking back, I can now fully appreciate the process and time it took to fully prepare me for life a few thousand miles away from home in the Big Apple.

Little did I know, that for just under 8 months I would spend my time living in Brooklyn in Metro World Child headquarters, with Metro staff and interns from all around the world, endeavouring to serve God and be a small part of His big plan for reaching children and their families with the gospel in the darkest neighbourhoods of New York City, presenting them with the only source of hope that is found through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Having been involved with different aspects of ministry in my local church at home in Northern Ireland, I was super excited (and nervous!) to work alongside an organisation that was involved in a similar style of outreach in New York City (a place I had longed to visit!) and see how God was at work in another part of the world with people willing to be used by Him.

All things work together for good.

RH2

From a young age, when posed the question “Where’s your favourite place in the world?” I always had one answer, “New York City.” Having never been there I guess that’s a bit of an irrational statement, but nonetheless, it was a desire that I knew was put in my heart for a purpose.

It was about 5 or 6 years previous before I set off on my New York adventure when I sat in my youth group on a Sunday evening after the church service and listened to a young girl, Sarah Reynolds share about her experience with what was formerly known as Metro Ministries in New York City. As we listened to her share the first-hand stories about “Sidewalk Sunday School”, “Yogi Bear Kids” and hearing gunshots while teaching children from the Bible on the streets of the poorest areas in the city, it all seemed like an overwhelming mix of intense excitement and legitimate fear. Still, I’ll never forget whispering in agreement with my friends, “I want to do that someday!”

A promise from above.

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When you live in a family of four children with a father who much prefers going to airports to have a picnic as you watch planes come and go every day of summer before he’d ever step foot on one – you can guess that foreign family holidays weren’t a thing in our house. So I’m sure you can imagine the horror of even suggesting I board a plane and cross an ocean by myself to a city full of strangers and streets rife with criminals.

Yea it took a while to get over that one.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the loudest, bravest, boldest person that exists and probably the last person you would want to send to the ghetto of any city, but when you’re in the centre of God’s will and He gives you a promise from the Bible like the one above from Acts to hold on to, stepping forward in faith is the best direction to go.

In every detail.

If I was to begin to tell about the kids I had the privilege to meet, the people I had the pleasure of serving alongside, or even the moments I saw God’s hand most evidently at work, well, we would be here for quite a while. So in an attempt to sum up my feelings on E V E R Y T H I N G that took place during my time with Metro World Child in New York City here’s a verse from the Bible, which even before I left for NYC could use to describe the amount of ways I have seen God at work in my life.

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Of course, there were tearful moments, sleepless nights and pesky lice problems (to name but a few hurdles along the way!) but I wouldn’t exchange my experience and memories for the world.

When people ask about my placement year and the reason for two years out of my studies I often jump to the most logical explanation I think they’ll understand for why I didn’t choose the ‘normal’ placement path. This range of excuses include: “I couldn’t get a placement”, I don’t think I tried hard enough”, “I didn’t apply for enough companies.” When in reality, perhaps it was just because God had something better in mind.

*Insert most commonly asked question*

Would you go back? To visit, for sure! Forever? We’ll have to talk to God about that one.

For now and until graduation, I’m just going to enjoy good old Northern Ireland.

Rachel H

Rachel Henry is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn at: Rachel Henry

5 things you need to know before starting Study USA

NW8

It’s strange to think that this time two years ago I was deciding between the Study USA experience or the year in work placement. I mean, do you choose to have a year of fun or a year that directly helps you get closer to your dream career? I chose the study USA path – fun or work… It was a no brainer really! To give you more of an idea of what it is truly like I’ve comprised a list of 5 things everyone needs to know before starting Study USA.

1.The workload is continuous

You are warned about the workload before you begin but it was still a shock having piles of homework every night after being in class most of the day. It almost feels like you’re back in school but you will soon realise that everyone there is on the same page and everyone has this homework so you find ways to make it more social. Group studying was really popular and often, after class, we would go to Starbucks or Newark’s and do our homework together, which was a much less serious atmosphere. Frappuccino’s make most things better… Right?

2.Don’t pre-judge your college

Another big one! If your successful in the application process, try your best to be really open-minded about your college. I am guilty of pre-judging. After finding out what college I was going to I immediately decided Study USA was no longer for me. Iwas placed at an all-women’s college in South Carolina – who knew these even existed? However, looking back, I couldn’t be happier and I wish I hadn’t spent so much time stressing about Columbia college. It is all part of the experience and the team at study USA matched me up brilliantly. I quickly realised that my new-found friends were the ones who were going to make this experience for me.

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3.The ‘freshman fifteen’ is real

This is one of the American terms that I picked up and it refers to freshman (what we call first year students) putting on 15lbs after starting college life and it couldn’t be more real. Between the constant streams of beer and the huge portion sizes if you don’t keep up some form of exercise you will be lucky if it’s only 15lbs you put on. Also with Study USA you get a meal plan which entitles you to three meals a day (all paid for), so surely you shouldn’t waste this… Right? Well, that’s the approach I took anyway.

4.Fraternities and sororities really do exist.

Well, obviously fraternities didn’t exist in my college, and they were only introducing sororities the year I left. But most of my friends went to University of South Carolina (USC), which is a massive college right beside mine which had every type of frat and sorority you could possibly imagine. Our friends were in TKE and I was lucky enough to get to a few of their events. One of which was a mountain weekend, this is where all the members of TKE bring a date and the fraternity rents log cabins up in the Georgia mountains for a weekend. With this invitation, there was the obligation to paint your date an ice cooler to store your drinks in for the weekend (Something I was not aware at the time). Photos of my cooler are featured below, most stressful experience of my life, it took two months to complete!

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NW6

 

 

5.Just go with it

My final and most important point is simply just go with it all. Yes, you will feel uncomfortable to begin with and things might seem a bit odd but I promise it’s all very fun if you just embrace it. I remember my first weekend I was out in the car with the girls heading to my first frat event – a ‘darty’ which is a day party where all drink and food is provided by the frat. The playlist for the car journey involved every rap song under the sun, I had never heard any before in my life, but they knew every word. Shazam (the app which listens to the song and then tells you the name of it) was my answer to this problem, discretely using this on my phone to store the songs being played so I could listen to them in my dorm later. I laugh so much just thinking about doing this, so ridiculous now! But, it’s just how I adjusted. It really was an incredible year and for me it was completely worth every moment. In my eyes, I took the stance that you will be working for the rest of your life so why not take an opportunity to do something different? Below is a short video of my year – see for yourself all the fun and opportunities I had.

Niamh Webb is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on Twitter @1234niamh, and on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/niamh-webb-2b5260107/

 

Burger King Tackles Bullying

When someone says the name Burger King what do you think of?

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Fast food, unhealthy food, convenience? But what about anti bullying?

It is not a connection that I would have originally made myself however, as part of anti-bullying month Burger King did a PR stunt in an undisclosed restaurant in LA where hidden cameras where used and Burger King employees served beaten up Whopper Jr. hamburgers whilst at the same time paid teenage actors are physically bulling another teenage boy.

What is the spot about?

The spot is called “Bullying Jr.,” and was created in honour of National Bullying Prevention Month which took place during the month of October in the US to raise awareness that 30 % of students are bullied each year.

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The stunt was to highlight the sad truth of bullying that in many cases bystanders will not get involved and in this instance it turned out to be true, with only 12% of customers reporting the bullying of the child whilst a staggering 95% of customers reported the ‘bullied’ Whopper Jr. Burger.

The campaign has been viewed more than a million times on YouTube and been retweeted hundreds of thousands of times.

Burger King partnered with US anti-bullying organisation No Bully and the CEO and Founder Nicolas Carlisle had this to say about the ad:  “We know that bullying takes on many forms, physical, verbal, relational and online. But the first step to putting an end to bullying is to take a stand against it…our partnership with the Burger King brand is an example of how brands can bring positive awareness to important issues. You have to start somewhere and they chose to start within.”

Link to the video on YouTube:

Why I think it worked:

Although the ad received some criticism due the obvious product placement and the fact it only confronts one element of bullying, physical bullying, I think that the ad worked very well for a number of reasons:

  • Real Life Situation

It was a real life situation that any of us could find ourselves or have found ourselves in so the relatability factor had you questioning what you would do in that situation and by the end of the ad it may have you questioning what you might do in the future if you are ever in a similar situation. The fact the situation is real life reactions emphasises the figures presented at the end of the experiment.

  • Support Of A Recognised Charity

As the campaign is supported by an anti-bullying organisation, No Bully, this helps ensure that the message gets across without it seeming like another ploy to promote a fast food chain. It further adds authenticity to the facts and figures provided during the ad increasing the strength of the message. By partnering with an anti-bullying organisation this highlights the good that globally recognised brands can do to shine a light on important issues.

  • Emotive

The ad is very emotive as it shows a child getting bullied in the video and that can be hard to watch. Combined by the fact very little people stand in to helps further heights how distressing bullying can be if you are in need of help but people chose to ignore your plea.

The comparison of people’s reactions to the bullying and their ‘bullied’ burger increases the emotion as it is hard to comprehend that people would be more concerned with food being bullied than a child.

The ability to involve people’s emotions and possibly draw on their own experiences is very powerful as it adds an extra dimension to the ad and helps ensure that it is memorable, thought provoking and engaging.

Final Thoughts:

Burger King says it wants its position to be clear.

“The Burger King brand is known for putting the crown on everyone’s head and allowing people to have it their way. Bullying is the exact opposite of that,” the company said.

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At the end of the ad when they speak to the people who intervened when the child was being bullied it was interesting to see their reasoning behind helping – many of them had been bullied as children and wished that someone would have stepped in to help them. Does this then raise the concern that ignorance is bliss? Are we living in a society that if you have not been directly affected by bullying that it is easier for you to choose to ignore it even if it is happening right in front of you? In my opinion the ad does make you consider your own actions and how you might act in the future.

In order for any campaign to be successful the message needs to be clear, memorable and with a call to action and I think that Burger King managed to do all three within this ad.

 

Caoimhe Fitzpatrick is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @caoimhef_95 / LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/caoimhe-fitzpatrick-0b8682110/

Donald Trump – Leader of the United States?

Donald Trump – Leader of the United States?

Whether Americans agree with it or not, Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States.

 

Growing up, I had always known Donald Trump to be this multi-millionaire business man. He had travelled around the world creating Trump resorts, golf courses and many other vastly expensive ventures. He was seen as “out there” and a bit OTT! From very early on, you knew that Trump would bring a very different approach to politics.

 

Things would undoubtedly be interesting for the rest of us…

Much of the election campaign for his presidency was surrounded by controversy. To this day he continues to shock the world with some of his interviews and tweets which offend people on so many different levels.

 

•Sports and America•

 

As many people know, Sports is such a massive part of everyday life and culture in America. In the last few months there have been controversies involving the biggest sporting organisations in America and Donald Trump, dragging him into the limelight for all the wrong reasons- (you could solely blame his twitter account!)

Donald trump rally

 

•Trump collides with sports stars•

 

The NFL (National Football League) is America’s most powerful sporting organisation with TV deals and sponsorships worth hundreds of millions of dollars. It has fans in the States and across the globe who religiously follow their teams, while it also has casual fans (myself included– the annual SuperBowl game may just be an excuse to stay awake drinking with your friends into the wee hours on a Monday morning!)

 

Most of the star players in this sport come from African American backgrounds and are prime examples of what many believe to be “The American Dream”

 

Recently some of these stars have taken it upon themselves to use their high status and fame to showcase what they believe is right by protesting. What could be wrong with this? Everyone has a right to stand up for what they believe in… See the next paragraph for this brilliant pun!

•San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick “takes a kneel”•

 

During the 2016 season Kaepernick chose not to stand during a pregame playing of the national anthem as a show of protest against police brutality and racism in America. In some quarters he received praise for this, however it was unpopular with the NFL’s more conservative favouring fan base. It prompted many back and forward debates about whether sports stars should be using their stature in order to protest a point of view.

Colin K kneeling

 

The most important thing from this was that it then prompted other sports stars from across America to realise they could also use their position of social influence to protest for what they believe in.

 

•Trump’s response•

 

At a rally in Alabama, Trump took the opportunity to address the predominantly white crowd about his thoughts on the NFL.

“You know what’s hurting the game,” Trump asked, “when people like yourselves turn on television, and you see those people taking the knee when they are playing our great national anthem.”

What was quite shocking about this was the social divide he had immediately created. It was almost as if he liked the idea of the “us against them” mentality. While he used the “people like yourselves” phrase to address the rally crowd, he also branded “those people” – the African American sports stars.

Trump unbelievably went on to advise fans to boycott the NFL and speculated the idea that the NFL club owners should actually fire those players who feel they can protest during the playing of the national anthem.

 

Steph Curry’s White house snub

 

The NBA is the next major sporting organisation that has seen Trump involved for all the wrong reasons. In Basketball, it has for a long time been seen as a tradition for the winning team from that season to get an invite to the White House to formally meet the President in office. However this year, Golden State Warriors player and MVP Steph Curry (in other words the player of the year for that season) decided that he did not agree with the President’s views on African American citizens and would not be attending the White House with the winning team.

This led to a huge backlash on Twitter. It was so fascinating to see the president of a country getting involved in a confrontation via a social media site!

Trump tweeted:

“Going to the White House is considered a great honour for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!”

 

LeBron James who is arguably one of the greatest basketball players to play the game replied to Trump with an instant classic which received over half a million RT’s;

LeBron J tweet to Trump

 

PR and Trump

Looking ahead to the future it will be interesting to see if Trump continues to publicly say whatever he wants about a certain topic. He famously is known to personally tweet all of the tweets off his account which is rare with someone who has many millions of followers on the platform. You may think that after all of the controversial moments he has had that he may tone it down online and really take care of the matters which America needs taken care of. In my eye’s it is hard to see how Donald Trump can be a genuine leader of the United States while he evidently shows he does not support everyone who is indeed an American citizen.

 

Daniel Lewis is a final year CAM student at Ulster University. He can be contacted at: LinkedIn