With attendance last year exceeding 300,000, Jaipur is the world’s largest free literary festival, bringing together prominent speakers and performers for a programme of events celebrating the written word in all its forms.
Over five days the festival provides a stage for hundreds of Indian and international writers and speakers who participate in sessions ranging from poetry readings to discussions about political issues.
In 2016 the festival hosted international guests including Stephen Fry, Margaret Atwood, Alexander McCall Smith, Ashwin Sanghi, Thomas Piketty and Marlon James.
The RMIT students - selected from undergraduate and postgraduate programs in public relations, communication, writing and publishing - will gain invaluable skills assisting in the operation of a major international festival, working across a number of areas including venue management, media production, marketing, merchandising and community engagement.
The study tour is part of the RMIT School of Media and Communication Work Integrated Learning (WIL) program, and the students’ work at the festival will be assessed and contribute toward their degrees.
Maninder Suri, from the festival’s management team, was one of the panellists who interviewed applicants for the study tour.
“The successful applicants demonstrate qualities including maturity and capacity for hard work, as well as curiosity about India and eagerness to experience an event of this scale,” Suri said.
Callum Fogarty, a Bachelor of Communication (Professional Communication) student in his second year at RMIT, said the chance to study internationally was one he could not pass up.
“Global opportunities like the festival don’t come around very often, and the experience will benefit me both academically and personally,” Fogarty said.
“Working at the festival will be a great opportunity to witness the inner workings of a huge and growing event, as well as teaching me skills I can take with me into the career I hope to pursue, media communication.”
Tiffany Doensen, a second-year student in the Bachelor of Communication (Public Relations), said that the study tour offers participants a combination of education and experience they would be unable to get anywhere else.
“When I first learned about the JLF I was amazed by how colourful, energetic and expressive it seemed.
“The opportunity to not only experience the world’s largest free literary event but actually be a part of it is an incredibly exciting prospect,” Doensen said.
Philippa Brear, senior lecturer in Bachelor of Communication (Public Relations), will lead the tour.
"This festival will be a great opportunity for a diverse group of our students to be part of a major international event and to mould their experience in line with their interests and goals, whether they be in major events and logistics, writing and publishing, media management, cross-cultural communication or other areas," Brear said.
The RMIT School of Media and Communication places around 600 students each year into internships with multiple industry partners in Australia and overseas.
Story: Bradley Dixon