Internships in focus: Journalism in Romania
RELEASED: Feb. 16, 2006
DANVILLE, KYFor all Centre College students, the January CentreTerm means personal, in-depth, engaged learning beyond the norm. For those students who choose to complete internships, the CentreTerm experience takes them outside the classroom and into the working world.
Internships are an integral part of the Centre Commitment, which guarantees students an internship, study abroad, and graduation in four years.
The Centre Internship Plus program offers matching grants for selected internships, and offers students a chance to earn extra financial support.
This year, many Centre students had interesting and rewarding internships for CentreTerm. Here, in the first of a multi-part series, is the story of one student's internship.
Please tell us your name, major and hometown.
Douglas W. Alexander, Anthropology/Sociology, Buffalo, N.Y.
Describe your internship. Where do you work? What are you doing?
The program I worked through was called Teaching/Projects Abroad (TAPA), which has a number of projects in several different countries. I chose to go to Romania. The office I worked at was in Brasov (the old city, built by Saxons, brought over by a Hungarian) on Casteluli St. I lived in the new city (built during the Soviet era) on Bulevardul Muncii. There I wrote for a local traveler's magazine called the Brasov Visitor. This entailed reviews of cafes, interviews with locals and travelers, and opinion- and fact-based articles.
What have you found most challenging about your internship?
The first article I wrote is the first article every journalist volunteer writes, which is first impressions. This is a lot more difficult than it seems because I have to write my first impressions while I'm still having them. Other than that, there wasn't anything all that difficult about being in Romania or working with TAPA. I actually felt very at home. One reason was that I haven't had a Buffalo winter in three years and it was so nice to see it really snow.
What have you found most rewarding?
On several occasions I had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and interview them. We would meet for an interview at about 8 or 9 p.m. (the regular hours for going out to a pub in Romania) and end up talking until midnight or 1 a.m. I met up with a student traveling on his own from Los Angeles to interview him about an Internet community called CouchSurfing. We walked around Brasov, met a group of Romanians our age and stayed out until about 7 in the morning. To me, that's the destruction of barriers between different cultures. Meeting the locals and engaging yourself in conversation is, to me, the most important thing about traveling. I don't travel to sight see, or to drink the local beer (though I of course do); I travel to understand. That understanding is found in the people of the country of which you are a guest.
How has your Centre experience helped you to prepare for your internship?
I wouldn't say that I was close-minded when I came to Centre. I was actually fairly well traveled. But since coming to Centre I certainly look at the world differently than I did before. I would certainly say that I'm a different person than I was when I first came. Likewise, I would image that I'll leave a different person then I am now. My adviser Beau Weston [NEH associate professor of sociology] is also one of my favorite professors. As his student, I feel he's provided me with the opportunity to better understand myself. I carry this knowledge of how to step outside myself and understand why I'm where I am and who I am becoming when I travel. This is how I evolve as a person, and why I'll be a different person when I leave Centre.
What are your goals after graduation? Will your internship help you meet those goals?
After graduation I hope to be accepted into the JET program to teach English in Japan. My real passion is Eastern Europe, its people and culture. I'm hoping to use the JET program as a springboard for teaching English in Eastern Europe, which is much harder [to get into]. Whether my Romanian internship will end up being the answer to getting into the education system in Eastern Europe, or just an internship, at this point I don't know. But whether it will or won't help a future career, it was still an experience of a lifetime.
Was there a certain person or office at Centre who helped you during the application process to get the internship? A professor or staff member who wrote you a nice letter of recommendation, for example, or pointed you in the right direction?
Deborah Jones was a tremendous help to me in filling out applications and helping me to understand the whole process of getting an internship.
Would you like to share any anecdotes about your internship?
One weekend some co-workers and I went on a walk to a site called "Solomon's Rock." It was a good hour and a half walk through downtown Brasov and into the outskirts. When we got there we had to climb up a snowy slope to get a better view. At the top of the hill there was a flat picnic area and nine Romainan men were having a cookout. They invited me over and promptly gave me a mug of hot wine. It was nice to be drinking a cup of hot wine and talking to the locals as the others reached the top. The men grilled up a feast for us, and we were basically force-fed. We stayed and talked with them until the sun set on the mountain and we were all too cold to talk. That was one of the best days I had in Romania, and remains one of those experiences that makes you wonder sometimes if it really happened.
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