It all started like this: a suitcase, a passport and expectations for something new and exciting. We were 10 complete strangers from five continents. And we were the best group ever. We were brought together by our desire to be better journalists. We were brought together by the World Press Institute.
The adventure began in Minnesota in the big white van. We hit another car on the second day. But we were better in the kitchen. For some, it was the first trip to the USA, the first snow, the first fall of ice, the first blog in English and first encounters with the real America.
First rule for every fellow: Don’t be late.
Second rule: You will sleep when you get home.
A snowstorm, snowshoeing and stories of times gone by greeted us up north in Grand Marais.
“We have some favorite words that we keep using and using. One of them is ‘Duluuuuuuuth’ – that’s a place that we loved really and we love the word. And the second one I guess is ‘cuuuuute’ and the third one – OK, we were the most boring group ever, so ‘boooooooring, said Feyza Gumusluoglu, journalist from Turkey.”
“We got the opportunity to visit the biggest media organizations in the U.S. like The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, ProPublica, FOX News and we also was able to meet one of the biggest media personalities in the U.S. from CNN, said Piyumi Fonseka, journalist from Sri Lanka.“
“We played a lot of games in these two months. But unfortunately, I can’t tell what was the main one because it’s kind of secret. But we also played apparently corn hole. I lost a bet with Milena against Saqib and Feyza, so it was hard because it was not the first bet I lost against Saqib. But then together we won in the table football. So that was kind of great, said Julieta Nassau, journalist from Argentina.”
Along with having fun, we learned something new every day.
“We learned about the First Amendment, we learned about the American justice and criminal system, we learned about the agriculture, we learned about each other’s cultures, we learned about politics – why some states are red, why some are blue, why some are purple and what it means: we learned so much in these eight weeks that you wouldn’t learn a years, said Fauziyya Tukur, journalist from Nigeria.”
Music was our passion. Britney Spears – girls’ favorite singer. We didn’t always do the best. But we continued with the same passion. Miami welcomed us with sunshine and sent us away with a storm.
“The weather in Miami, it was kind of crazy. The first day we were there, it was this broiling heat. Some of us liked it. I thought it felt a bit like being locked up in a sauna for 24 hours with no snow to cool down with, in between. And then suddenly it started raining like boring. Really? Um, it was this torrential rain for three days. I haven’t really seen that much rain since I was in East Africa many years ago. So I think weather-wise, actually Minnesota wins over Miami, said Alexander Uggla, journalist from Finland.”
At Piyumi’s bachelorette party, we gave her advice for life, but mostly for crazy dancing. We packed and unpacked dozens of times. We traveled by plane, train and car. We visited a unique museum.
“Yeah, we really loved Austin for the bats, blues, barbecues, and bar-ry weather, said Bridget Rollason, journalist from Australia.”
We talked about today’s topics.
“During this fellowship we talked to people, who was so concerned about the future of journalism and the future of democracy. So people also talked to us about the impacts of climate change and artificial intelligence. We as journalists are here to try to help society how to do with this challenges, said Danilo Alves Silva, journalist from Brazil.”
And the French always asked at least three questions.
“I’ve been asked why three questions? Apparently I seem to overdo it with my inquiries during our meetings. As an answer, allow me to apply the ‘N plus one plus one’ technique. Why not? Shouldn’t you benefit from my art of asking questions? Also, don’t you think that if I’m not asking my questions, the meeting would end after the first five minutes and finally wouldn’t be better to thank me instead, looks like I just did it again. On a bit more serious note, there is a French saying … (he is saying something in French –‘there is no two without three’). If you don’t get it, just ask me, said Tarek Kai, journalist from France. “
We also celebrated several birthdays. We are singing. 9 weeks, thousands of kilometers traveled and not a single scandal between us.
“But I would like to credit to myself for the fact that we did not fight among each other. Because I was the one who was constantly badgering them with is that we are going to have a fight, we are going to have a fight. So all of them were very conscious and, you know, they all thought that cannot be proven, right? Zach, you were right all along. This is the most period, boring, period, group, period, ever, period, boring, said Saqib Tanveer, journalist from Pakistan.”
We fed kangaroos in Iowa, rode the cable car in San Francisco, even went to the recycling dump. We had an amazing pizza. We toured Chicago by boat.
“We were 10 complete strangers from five continents. Today, two months later, we are more than friends, we are a family, said Milena Kirova, journalist from Bulgaria.”