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The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

International journalists reflect on four-month national journey

By Federico Burlon

The World Press Institute’s (WPI) 10 fellows from 2006 reflected on their four months in the United States on Tuesday in a public forum. The fellows, journalists from around the world who tour the U.S. throughout the summer and fall months, shared experiences from their American visit and answered audience questions at the forum in the John B. Davis lecture hall.

Peter Bradley, WPI’s Development officer, said the forum was intended to demonstrate the program’s impact on the fellows’ lives and “how spending four months in the U.S. deepened their understanding of [American] culture.”

The turnout at the event was high, though few students attended. A majority of the audience was from the surrounding community.

The fellows’ presentation addressed different perspectives they had formed about the United States during their travels around the country.

“New Orleans is the Third World into the First World,” Solange Azevedo, a Brazilian journalist, said of her impressions after visiting the hurricane-ravaged city.

Other comments from fellows touched on the verbal travails of President George W. Bush, the amount of fast food Americans consume and the related obesity among all segments of the American population.

The international journalists are wrapping up their fellowships just as the WPI is preparing to welcome a new director. Douglas McGill, a former New York Times reporter, will take over the post in January when current director John Ullman retires. Ullman will “write some books” in his retirement, Bradley said.

McGill has no prior connections to Macalester, Bradley said, which reflects the fact that the WPI has become a non-profit organization separate from Macalester.

The World Press Institute Fellowship program started in 1961. Its aim is “to promote press freedom, to help international journalists to see the country, get training in computer reporting, ethics in journalism, transparency and sophisticated ways of reporting,” Bradley said.

The program still does draw on Macalester resources, including professors who give lectures to fellows about American culture and history. The program also makes use of Macalester facilities.

Since 1961, 488 journalists have participated in this 4 month-long experience, which differs from other programs that bring foreign journalists to the U.S.

“Most programs bringing journalists put them in newsrooms. We feel that by spending time outside, they get a much better grasp of the country,” Bradley said.

During their stay in the U.S., the fellows live together, travel around the country visiting news media outlets, schools and impoverished areas of the country.

Creating bonds with local people is an essential part of the program, Bradley said. In fact, fellows praised American hospitality. Jon Halvorsen, a former journalist and current editor of the Macalester Today alumni magazine, and Donna Halvorsen, a journalist at the Star Tribune, said they enjoyed their experience as a host family.

It was an “enriching” opportunity, Jon Halvorsen said. “This is our 11th fellow. The best part is meeting new people.”

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