Stories and Culture

On Air: Students from Comrat’s Journalism Club “Wow”

This is everything you could want to know – and more! – about Comrat’s first Journalism Mentoring Program. Read on for a narrative, project examples, reports on trips to Moldovan media stations and many photographs of the Club’s 7 months of events.

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Program Highlights:

  • Expectations
  • Journalism Club Program Year & Master Classes
  • Student Conference & Personal Projects
  • Field Trip to Chişinau – TeleRadio Moldova & Independent Online News
  • Thanks
  • Program Highlights from Local Media
  • Mentor & Student Testimonials – Russian & English Translations

 Expectations:

When she heard about the project that first time my partner and I went to Gagauzia’s Department of Education to pitch a Journalism Club, expert and general inspector Liudmila Ivanovna Jekova never expected us to pull off the program. She happily admitted her mistake at the end of the Journalism Club student conference: the students performed spectacularly.

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Students tour the Gagauz television & radio station

I wasn’t surprised. I’d seen how hard they worked, how creative they were, their different strengths and excitations and joys. I’d watched our mentors guide the students, and listened to their sound advice. I knew they had all learned from experts.

I’ll admit my bias, but I rate our students’ work as on par with the professionals who trained them (rumor has it that the local TV station wanted their videos!). Even in their first steps, when they’d come for a class and practice, you couldn’t help but notice their attention and their quick learning.

So as I was going through the pictures from the program year – I would be printing them for the students’ final conference – I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed. Lucky me, the office was empty, so I was free for a good soft cry. I was so damned proud of our students and mentors. I still am.

Journalism Club Program Year & Master Classes:

Mentor Vanya on the program year: “I liked that, over the course of six months, we touched on many themes that any person could find useful, even if that person hadn’t chosen journalism as his future profession.”

We wanted the kids to grow. When we applied for the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn grant, it was necessary write our proposal in terms of American objectives: gender equity, first and foremost, then leadership. This came easily for our team, a group of women with strong beliefs and inherent drive to provide new opportunities for girls. But the scope of the project would go far beyond equality. We wanted a holistic approach, we endeavored to challenge.

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By the end of the program, our students would discover that they had become more open-minded. We would introduce them to people from other parts of the world. Participants would learn life skills and journalism skills; they’d all have to be self-starters. They’d take responsibility for their projects, first working with mentors to gather material, then go about their interviews and research and photography independently. They’d learn public speaking, and organize their own conference. They could only be motivated – apathy would mean failure.

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Mentor and students work together

We lost three of our eight chosen students after the winter break, but those who remained doubled their efforts. They learned about ethics in journalism, and the differences between Western-style and Post Soviet-style reporting; they practiced writing interview questions, then interviewed local volunteers; they gained skills in filming, news writing, photography and video editing; they learned techniques for public speaking, advertising and event planning. The weight and the success of the program was theirs.

Mentors

Mentors judge student presentations during a weekly Journalism Club session

Master classes included sessions with Italian photographer Alessandro Vincenzi, retired communications professional David Jarmul, and two professionals – one videographer and video editor – from the Gagauz Television station “ГРТ.”

Student Conference & Personal Projects:

Student Lina on the Journalism Club: “At the end of the program, they provided us the opportunity to work on our own projects and present them to the public. I have to say that everything went successfully, and I liked the work. I would also like to mention the mentors who helped with the project. Participating in the club helped me broaden my knowledge in the sphere of journalism, I met wonderful and talented people, and I was given the opportunity to prove myself.”

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The morning of the student conference, we scrambled to finish preparations. My partners, mentor Vanya and I arrived two hours early to nitpick: Would the technology run? Were the stands set properly? Where were the labels, where was that gorgeous catering from local bakery Augusto? An accident – we pulled a set of curtains down to the floor! Would the school’s director scold us?

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Miras-Moldova Executive Director Olga Chayuk and Journalism Club Program Coordinator Anna Celac prepare setting up for the student conference

Nerves, of course we suffered strong nerves in that moment! We had scheduled the program to start at 10:00 in the morning, but as is typical in Gagauzia, people only began to show up just about then. The first guests mingled at the students’ photography and article exhibition. We postponed the event until about 10:20, when our audience had finally filled out.

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Journalism Club students presented three final projects: Stepan reported on Gagauz handcrafts, Veronika and Lia researched traditional forms of holistic medicine, and Nastya and Lina recorded family and friends preparing traditional Gagauz cuisine.

Stepan Nyagu’s article, “Folk Crafts of Gagauzia”

After each group of students presented their videos, they answered questions from the audience. One couldn’t help but notice their confidence, each student speaking as an expert.

Sitting in the front row, I was privy to soft arguments amongst some of the women. During the final video presentation, several of them – including school directors – chattered amongst themselves.

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They could not help but compare their own methods for preparing their Gagauz dishes.

Following the presentations and after my partner awarded diplomas to students and mentors, the audience was invited to speak and offer comments.

A major compliment came from the school’s directors after awarding diplomas: they had discovered new complexities, different sides of their students. The greatest revelation was unexpected creativity: four of the five students came from scientific studies.

Some of those who had been interviewed for the students’ projects also provided their impressions. The older generations carry a great pride in Gagauz tradition, but it’s something they are concerned may not continue with future generations.

My partner Anna Celac had told me, a day or so before the conference, that no Comrat youth had ever completed such a project, nor had they taken such an interest in their own culture. We hope, now, that the Journalism Club will carry this forward and inspire future students to research.

At the very last moment of the event, my partner Olga reassured a pleased crowd: we would publish the students’ material online. The attendees were satisfied that their culture had been recorded, and would be shared beyond their much-loved home.

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Students, coordinators and mentors celebrate

Excursion to the Capital: Tour of Chişinau Media Stations

Earlier in the year, my partner Anna and I had decided that we would try to take the Journalism Club participants to Moldova’s capital to see professional reporters at work. Our stroke of luck was discovering that Ecaterina Terzi, a reporter who had lectured at one of our Club sessions, had also worked at TeleRadio Moldova. On Friday, April 27, we bussed students and mentors to Chişinau for the Journalism Club’s culminating event.

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Student Liliya on the excursion: “The trip turned out to be unforgettable. It was lovely that the excursion went so hospitably. It was interesting to see how the radio and television stations work, and to talk with the employees at News Maker.”

The group first visited Moldova’s largest radio station, TeleRadio-Moldova,  where they viewed:

  • The radio station’s museum
  • Recording studios
  • Radio shows in progress
  • The recording room for children’s programs
  • The news editing room
  • The television orchestra
  • The television choir
  • The room where they record youth programs
  • The Director’s office
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Students visit the TeleRadio Museum

Our guide provided interesting tidbits throughout our tour of the radio station.

When we walked in to observe a radio show in progress, he noted: «Наши компьютеры старые, но наши люди хорошие!» Some of the station’s workable equipment is from the 1980’s.

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Student Liliya on the radio station’s equipment:It was surprising that they saved so much equipment from the Soviet times: receivers, radios, microphones, cameras and video cameras.”

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He also mentioned that we had seen the second-largest TV orchestra in Europe. The band occupied a huge vaulted room, right down the hall from the television choir. Our Club participants rushed to record their practice session.

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One of our final stops was the small studio where professionals record segments for Moldova’s youth radio. The young man who records the program proved to be an inspiration for Club students. He has been working for about 2 years… with no formal training! He has a master’s in history, and is working on his PhD, but was nearly self-taught in the radio arts.

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The young man gave our Journalism Club students a tip on how some radio announcers practice speaking in a clear voice: they grasp a pencil between their teeth and grumble through the blockage. It’s much easier, he said, to articulate once you remove it! But then he admitted that he had never practiced this method himself…

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The young women who edit news for TeleRadio Moldova

As we left the radio building, our guide joked that there were more people in our group than they had technicians at the station. All it takes is a few talented workers for excellent production!

Our next stop was the “Televiziunea” TV Station MOLDOVA1, across the street from the radio station.

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At the TV station, our group saw:

  • The museum
  • The news room
  • The video montage room
  • The Recording room above the news room
  • The sound room

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The museum was stocked with hundreds of photographs celebrating the station’s history.

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Oddly, one short table somewhat hid an artillery round! The Moldovan military gave it to the station in 2003 for the station’s 45 year anniversary. My partner Anna made me chuckle… what else did the military have to give?!

After touring the news room, we went up to the journalist’s space, where several people were editing that day’s news. We weren’t allowed to take pictures – they needed their privacy.

Student Lina on journalism professionals: “The guided excursion demonstrated how professional journalists work, who rigorously select information and try to present it correctly.”

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The final stop of our journalism excursion was the office of News Maker, the largest independent Russian platform in Moldova.

The reporters at News Maker have a nation-wide reputation for quality news. My partner Anna had chosen this as our final destination to give our students the opportunity to visit a news room with no links to political parties – a situation very common in Moldova. The journalists there, though huddled together in a clean little third-floor attic space with a hipster feel, are known for their serious investigations.

Mentor Misha on the experience: “The trip turned out to be excellent, a cool way to spend time. I saw just what you can achieve in this sphere. I’d want every beginning journalist to have this kind of motivation for creative work!”

Thanks

What else is there ever to be said after completing a project like this? I can only express wonder, and the sincerest gratitude, for the incredible people involved in this project. I think mentor Misha said it best: “We’re really just lucky, it’s not that often that you can participate in a project of this scale. I’m glad that I could work with such a team!”

So then: a huge shout-out to everyone who made this happen! Partners with Peace Corps, Gagauz TV, Comrat schools, Comrat State University and TeleRadio Moldova; Photographer Alessandro Vincenzi; Peace Corps Volunteers David Jarmul, Daniel Gottfried and Rayshawn Payton-Kilgore; mentors Sveta, Nadya, Misha and Vanya; partners and Miras-Moldova goddesses Anna Celac, Olga Chayuk amd Nadya Guseinova; all those who donated to make this project possible; and, of course, our GLORIOUS students Nastya, Liliya, Lina, Veronika and Stepan.

Program Highlights from Local Media

The following videos and links are a collection of Moldovan reports on the Journalism Club. The programs and reports are in Russian and Romanian:

Gagauz Television “ГРТ” Promotion of Journalism Club (video in Russian): https://videopress.com/embed/wdUnu90N

Gagauz Media Report on the Journalism Club (article in Russian): https://gagauzmedia.md/newsid=17370/

Gagauz Television “ГРТ” Report on Journalism Club, beginning at 14:56 (video in Russian): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWt7ZY0UdFw&feature=youtu.be&t=14m56s

TeleRadio Moldova News Report – Student Excursion (article in Romanian): https://www.trm.md/ro/social/un-grup-de-liceeni-din-comrat-in-vizita-la-teleradio-moldova/

 

Mentor & Student Testimonials:

Mentors

Миша:

Нам просто повезло, не так часто можно поучаствовать в проекте такого масштаба, я рад, что трудился в такой команде!

Поездка выдалась, отличной, круто провели время, я увидел чего можно добиться в этой сфере, хотелось чтобы каждый начинающий журналист, получал такую мотивацию, для творчества!

Misha:

We’re really just lucky, it’s not that often that you can participate in a project of this scale. I’m glad that I could work with such a team!

The trip turned out to be excellent, a cool way to spend time. I saw just what you can achieve in this sphere. I’d want every beginning journalist to have this kind of motivation for creative work!

Ваня:

Общий курс Клуба Журналистики: “Мне понравилось, что на протяжении шести месяцев мы затронули многие темы, которые каждый сможет найти полезными, даже не выбрав журналистику в качестве своей основной будущей профессии».

Поездка в Кишинев: «Меня поразил то факт, что наша столичная радиостанция пользуется оборудованием, которое осталось еще со времен СССР».

Vanya:

The general program of the Journalism Club: “I liked that, over the course of six months, we touched on many themes that any person could find useful, even if that person hadn’t chosen journalism as his future profession.”

Trip to Chisinau: “I was amazed by the fact that our capital’s radio station uses equipment that is left over from the time of the Soviet Union.”

Students

Настя:

Я рада,что была участницей данного проекта,так как он открыл во мне творческий потенциал,я познакомилась с множеством креативных людей и приобрела бесценный опыт.

Nastya:

I’m glad that I was a participant in this project, since it helped me develop my creative potential. I got to know many creative people, and gained invaluable experience.

Лилия:

Благодаря клубу я познакомилась с интересными личностями своего города и из других стран, узнала много полезной информации, связанной с журналистикой, написала проэкт. Работать с координаторами и менторами было очень приятно и легко. Я получила бесценный опыт, море положительных эмоций и знаний. Огромное спасибо всем организаторам, все проходило очень доброжелательно, вы действительно старались, проделали огромную работу, и мы благодарны вам за это.

Поездка выдалась незабываемой, приятно что экскурсия прошла очень гостеприимно, было интересно увидеть как работает теле радио и телевиденье и пообщаться с сотрудниками ньюсмэйкер. Удивило, что сохранилось много оборудования совецких времен : приёмники, радио точки, микрофоны, фотоаппараты, видеокамеры. Спасибо огромное организаторам и Терзи Екатерине С.

Liliya:

Thanks to the Club, I got to know many interesting people from our city, as well as from different countries. I learned a lot of useful information connected to journalism, and wrote a project. It was very enjoyable and easy to work with the coordinators and mentors. I received invaluable experience, a sea of positive emotions and knowledge. A huge thanks to all of the organizers. Everyone was very welcoming, you really tried, accomplished a tremendous amount of work, and we are grateful to you for this.

The trip turned out to be unforgettable. It was lovely that the excursion went so hospitably. It was interesting to see how the radio and television stations work, and to talk with the employees at News Maker. It was surprising that they saved so much equipment from the Soviet times: receivers, radios, microphones, cameras and video cameras. Thanks so much to the organizers, and to Ecaterian Terzi.

Лина:

Участие в программе «Клуба журналистики» дало мне больше знаний в этой сфере. На протяжении нескольких месяцев координаторы клуба усердно работали, обучали нас технике письма и правильному оформлению статей, помогли освоить видеокамеру, монтаж, репортажную съёмку, организовав потрясающие мастер-классы. В конце программы нам предоставили возможность поработать над собственными проектами и представить их публике. Надо сказать, всё прошло успешно, и мне понравилось с этим работать. Хотелось бы также отметить менторов, которые помогали с проектами. Участие в клубе помогло мне расширить знания в сфере журналистики, познакомило с прекрасными и талантливыми людьми, дало возможность проявить себя.

Хотелось бы поблагодарить «Мирас Молдова» за то, что они организовали поездку в Кишинев на TRM и MOLDOVA1. Было очень интересно посмотреть, как работает местное телевидение и радио. Проведенная экскурсия показала работу профессиональных журналистов, которые тщательно отбирают информацию и стараются правильно её преподнести. Впечатляет также огромное количество оборудования, как старого, советских времен, так и нового, современного. Я рада, что попала в «Клуб журналистики», и выражаю благодарность за проделанную работу.

Lina:

Participation in the “Journalism Club” program gave me more knowledge in this sphere. Over the course of several months, the club coordinators worked diligently, teaching us the techniques of writing and how to correctly outline an article, helping us master video cameras, montages, filming, and organizing mind-blowing master classes. At the end of the program, they provided us the opportunity to work on our own projects and present them to the public. I have to say that everything went successfully, and I liked the work. I would also like to mention the mentors who helped with the project. Participating in the club helped me broaden my knowledge in the sphere of journalism, I met wonderful and talented people, and I was given the opportunity to prove myself.

I’d like to than “Miras-Moldova” for organizing the trip to Chişinau to TeleRadio Moldova and MOLDOVA1. It was really interesting to see how our local television station and radio work. The guided excursion demonstrated how professional journalists work, who rigorously select information and try to present it correctly. The huge collection of equipment also greatly impressed, like the old from Soviet times, and like the new from the present day. I’m glad that I joined the “Journalism Club,” and would like to express thanks for all of the work that’s been accomplished.

3 replies »

  1. Student Liliya on the radio station’s equipment: “It was surprising that they saved so much equipment from the Soviet times: receivers, radios, microphones, cameras and video cameras.” Not surprising at all. Also, that’s not a small missile but an artillery round. Love, Pops

    Like

  2. Haley, thank you for this beautifully written and illustrated summary of an extraordinary project. It is SO impressive what the students, your partners and you accomplished. You clearly made an impact on their lives and the Comrat community. They were lucky to have you.

    Like

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