The power of networking is a huge lesson that is emphasized to the students at Grady College. It’s not every day that a former professor asks an alumna to go to Vietnam to lead workshops for a television station, but for Sheeka Sanahori, that is just what happened.
Michael Castengera, who retired last December from teaching journalism, was contacted by a representative from the Television Network of Vietnam looking for recommendations of people that could help VTV with specific training. Castengera has worked with VTV on a large production company in Ho Chi Minh City called Dien Quan Media and Entertainment for five years.
The request prompted Castengera think of people Grady graduates that he knew who could do a good job at these workshops. He looked up their background through a Facebook group that has more than 500 Grady alumni in it.
“When you do that with a group like this, you find out that there are a number of Grady grads who have become major “movers and shakers” in the industry and it is astounding,” Castengera said. He recommended Sheeka Sanahori (ABJ’ 06) along with a few others, because he has seen the work that they have done after graduating from Grady.
Sanahori spent two weeks away from her job at USA Today teaching three workshops in Vietnam on creating trailers and teasers for both news and programming to VTV employees.
The first workshop that Sanahori taught was a class for news and programming employees in Ho Chi Minh City. The second workshop, located in Hanoi, was the same workshop but it was geared toward news professionals. The last workshop was for VTV employees that work in the programming division.
“The biggest challenge was getting a crash course in Vietnamese culture,” Sanahori said. “This was my first time in Vietnam, let alone teaching workshops there. Some marketing and video strategies that work in America simply wouldn’t fly in Vietnam. I made sure to let the workshop participants know that at the beginning of my workshops that some of my examples will work for them, and some of them may not.”
Sanahori learned from everyone she met while working with VTV. By going over to Vietnam and being immersed into the culture, she was able to learn a lot about the food, history and their news and entertainment offerings.
The courses Sanahori took at Grady, especially her experience with Newsource, taught her the value of hard work. Sanahori said that those lessons have been imperative for every step throughout her career.
“VTV’s news channels are producing sophisticated, globally-focused reporting,” Sanahori said. “Their entertainment channels produce content that are both thoughtful and interesting. I approached this as an opportunity to learn from them as much as they learned from me, and that’s absolutely what I experienced.”
Castengera, through his consulting work with VTV, has also been involved with workshops in India and Pakistan. His company grew out of the work he did with Audience Research and Development, one of the largest consulting firms in America. Castengera left the company and went out on his own after joining the university. In Vietnam, his focus was on producing a multi-platform material that would work in the multimedia/transmedia world.