Fort Mill Times

Here's a U.S. to Russia connection not likely to spur controversy –even in the press

Fort Mill High School students haul in television awards

Fort Mill High School students in Fort Mill, South Carolina won a variety of national and regional broadcast journalism awards.
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Fort Mill High School students in Fort Mill, South Carolina won a variety of national and regional broadcast journalism awards.

To Russia, with lens.

The U.S. Men's National Team couldn't do it, but four Fort Mill High School students and their teacher found a way to qualify for Moscow this summer as part of the FIFA World Cup in Russia.

The school's award-winning Buzz TV crew will cover the first week of action at the world's most visible sporting event.

"It's like with the Olympics, where games bring the world together," said Karin McKemey, instructor with Buzz TV, who is making the trip as well. "The World Cup is one game that brings the world together."

The Buzz TV four were selected from a nationwide search to leave that nation for the summer. Rising senior Isaac Palmer submitted a video to the SEE Program, a social expertise exchange program between the two nations. Savannah Walters, Ethan Miller and Courtney Smith will join Palmer.

The team will work with four Russian students and their teacher from Nizhny Novgorod, a city in western Russia east of Moscow.

McKemey said she was "a little shocked by it all" when she learned her group would participate. She wasn't alone.

"I think just being able to experience different cultures," McKemey said of what she hopes students will learn. "When we first found out we were going to Russia and told the parents some of them, rightly so, were freaked out."

Russian laws, rules, rights and expectations can be different from American ones. McKemey said she and students want to look for what makes Russians and Americans similar, and not just focus through the lens of their government.

"We don't want to think about them just as representations of their government," she said. "And I'm sure it works both ways. We're humans too, and not just representations of our government."

The World Cup runs from the June 14 opening game between Russia and Saudia Arabia to the final on July 15. Both games will be held in Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. The top 32 qualifying teams from across the world will play for soccer's biggest prize.

The Fort Mill crew will be in Russia June 12-24. They will work with Russian students to capture sights and sounds of the event. The two crews will produce a news show throughout the 2018-'19 school year with highlights from the World Cup. That show will air internationally.

The upcoming trip is the latest in a long line of awards for Buzz TV. The group has a National Student Production Emmy for best high school broadcast, 11 regional student production awards and was named best high school broadcast in South Carolina the past two years. The crew is up for eight more student production awards June 9.

The four students going to Russia will do so on education visas. The trip is paid for by the SEE Program. The group will tweet at @Fmbuzztv and post on Instagram at thebuzz_fmhs. They'll upload video to vimeo.com/thebuzztv.

McKemey said she had a conference call scheduled later Monday to find out more details on locations, sharing, camera usage. She doesn't yet know entirely what to expect, but she is hopeful the work she and students do will translate well.

"What I'm hoping is that storytelling is storytelling across the board," McKemey said. "We are all put on this planet to share each others' stories."

John Marks: jmarks@fortmilltimes.com; @JohnFMTimes
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