by CSU External Relations Staff


As appearing in SOURCE

It helps to have an extensive background as a journalist if you want to tell great stories about foreign cultures with words, pictures, video and sound. Speaking multiple languages is helpful if you want to be an international travel writer.

But as international television storyteller Ashley Colburn (’08) discovered when she graduated from CSU, all you really need is a thirst for adventure and a clear understanding of the basics. It is that thirst, along with a CSU degree that led Colburn into some 30 countries to create television programs, write travel articles and earn numerous accolades, including Emmy Awards and the CSU Alumni Association’s Graduate of the Last Decade Award in 2013.

Ashley Colburn rides an elephant during a shoot for a travel program
Ashley Colburn rides an elephant during a shoot for a travel program

Colburn regularly returns to CSU to share the secrets of her success, and this summer will partner with the Department of Journalism and Media Communication during a six-week, study abroad program that runs from May 27 to July 9.

Croatia program

Ashley Colburn in Zagreb.
Ashley Colburn in Zagreb.

Colburn will lead a two-week travel writing course in Croatia, where she is nationally famous for programs about the country’s many amazing tourist and cultural destinations. The Croatia travel writing program starts along the Adriatic coast in the city of Split, and finishes in the capital city of Zagreb. Colburn will personally lead the program in conjunction with CSU journalism faculty.

The Croatia adventure follows a four-week multimedia “boot camp” in Urbino, Italy, where CSU faculty members team with other U.S. and Italian faculty, Pulitzer Prize winners and nationally recognized publishing experts in a multimedia journalism and magazine writing program. Students in the program learn the fundamentals of writing, photography and video, as well as survival basics in Italian language. They then work with Italian student interpreters from the University of Urbino to tell stories about Italian culture. These stories are featured on an award-winning website.

Neither segment of the study abroad program requires expertise in writing and multimedia, but an interest in sharing experiences through media is important.

CSU faculty members Greg Luft and Steve Weiss are instructors in the Italy program, and both visited Croatia to meet with Colburn and Croatian educators to develop the travel writing program.


Students and faculty in Urbino last summer
Students and faculty in Urbino last summer

“This is an exceptional six-week, six-credit study abroad opportunity,” said Luft. “Students learn a great deal about two different cultures. The Italy program is very well established, and with Ashley’s expertise and many connections in Croatia, we are confident that this will be a life-changing experience for CSU students, and you do not need to be a journalism student.”

The Italy portion of the program is centered in the medieval city of Urbino, the birthplace of painter Raphael. Urbino was a critical center for artistic and cultural development during the the Italian Renaissance starting in the 14th century.

Downtown Zagreb
Downtown Zagreb

Students will explore the city and the surrounding area, and will have opportunities to travel to the nearby cities of Florence and Venice, as well as Italian beaches.

Examples of student work, as well as their impressions of the program are available online.

When the Italy portion of the program is finished, students will take a ferry across the Adriatic to Split, Croatia, where they will stay in a villa and explore Croatia’s historical waterfront, including visits to the birthplace of Marco Polo, the Dalmatian Islands and the city of Dubrovnik. Students will then move to the European Cultural Center in the capital city of Zagreb, where they will meet cultural leaders, journalists and educators.

Welcoming, safe

“During our pre-program trip to Croatia, we discovered that almost everyone there speaks English, they are very welcoming, and it’s an extremely safe place,” said Weiss. “We know that’s important given what might be represented regarding Europe in the media.”

“In fact, I feel safer when I’m in Croatia than when I’m in my hometown of San Diego,” Colburn noted.

Colburn has led a number of tours in the country, and produced television programs on all of the country’s historical and cultural treasures. Because of international exposure through her programs, she has become a celebrity of sorts. She is featured in Croatian television commercials, and is often recognized on the street.

“You can’t ask for a better ambassador for CSU, and for a more knowledgeable travel expert,” Weiss said.