They say a good magician never reveals his secrets. But this one is just too good to keep.
At one point during the five-day filming of the Indian reality TV show, “College Hunt, USA,” director Sakshi Khanna shared her latest request and then added imploringly, “You can do it. You’re Magic Johnson.”
A few frantic telephone calls, text messages, and office visits later, and “Magic Johnson” had scored again.
The secret behind this successful spell doesn’t involve trickery, sleight of hand, or even smoke and mirrors. It involves teamwork, collegiality, and collaboration – hallmarks of the Ohio Wesleyan University culture.
The University learned in mid-March that it was one of three schools in the nation selected by the U.S. Consulate General Mumbai and India’s Channel V television network to host “College Hunt, USA.” The three-part reality TV series will share information about pursuing undergraduate degrees in the United States with the network’s potential 25 million viewers.
Work began immediately to prepare for the two prospective students and eight-person crew who would arrive just a few weeks later. The prospective students would live on campus with OWU student hosts, and the crew would stay at a nearby hotel.
After a visit to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, “College Hunt, USA” arrived at Port Columbus International Airport at 11:25 p.m. April 22. Much had changed since the previous video and telephone planning conferences as the series began to take shape. At 2:30 a.m., the first sit-down meeting concluded and, at 4:30 a.m., OWU email and voice-mail boxes all over campus were filled with updates and urgent requests for assistance. No surprise, OWU came through.
“When we left Nebraska, we didn’t know how Ohio Wesleyan could top our experience,” said Asif Ismail, U.S. location manager for the film crew. “Now, we can’t image how [the State University of New York at Geneseo – the final stop on the ‘College Hunt’] will be able to top Ohio Wesleyan.”
So many people pulled together to make a lasting impression on prospective students Cuckoo Gupta and Shashank Sharma and the Channel V crew. This includes overnight OWU student hosts Kat Pickens ’14 and Kyle Hendershot ’14, as well as Perkins Observatory’s dynamic duo of Tom Burns and Don Stevens, who kindly kept “the place for space” open till 10:30 p.m. just for filming.
And when an early-morning air mattress incident created a need for extra lodgings, OWU student Sanaa Hazratjee ’14 quickly came to the rescue. She brushed off a thank-you note with typical OWU aplomb: “[A]s a member of the OWU family, it was only my duty to help out as much as was in my power to, of course!”
OWU students – and fluent Hindi speakers – Sriharsha Masabathula ’13, Krina Patel ’14, and Erica Shah ’16 also were on hand to help answer questions and explain their OWU experiences to the inquisitive visitors.
The friendliness of the campus community and the beauty of its many historic buildings weren’t lost on OWU’s guests. Cuckoo enthusiastically told a reporter that she loved the energy of the university as well as its architecture, which reminded her of castles.
“I feel like a princess here,” she said, beaming with happiness.
Now that’s magic.
Read more about “College Hunt, USA”. The series is expected to begin airing on Channel V in June.
Photos by Cole Hatcher, Taylor Rivkin ’14, Mark Schmitter ’12, and Sara Stuntz.