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It’s time to apply for Nicholas Kristof’s 2010 “Win-a-Trip” competition — one university student will accompany him on a reporting trip to Africa.
It won’t be comfortable or glamorous.
Maybe you’ll interview a president, but far more time will be spent squatting in thatch-roof huts, listening to villagers.
The goal is to cover issues of global poverty and their solutions.
Nick Kristof, who writes a regular column for the New York Times and is a best selling author of books on world affairs, holds this competition every year. The contest, he says,
reflects my conviction that the best way to open minds and hearts to the world’s challenges is to see them, hear them, smell them.
Readers ask why I tilt at windmills like malaria, sex trafficking or maternal mortality. The answer has to do, in part, with my university days — not my time in class, but the far more educational experiences I had backpacking around the world on vacations.
To save money when he was a student, Kristof traveled with local people on tops of trains in Sudan, on tops of buses in Pakistan. He was robbed in Ghana by drunken soldiers, and robbed by a gang of teenagers in Peru. He slept on the floor of a temple in India and with a family in a cave in Algeria.
These trips transformed his understanding of the world, and instilled a yearning to make a difference.
Kristof’s first trip, with Casey Parks, from Mississippi, was to Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon and the Central African Republic.
The second trip was to Rwanda, Congo and Burundi with a medical student, Leana Wen, and a high school teacher, Will Okun. The third trip was with Paul Bowers of the University of South Carolina, to West Africa.
Where To — What Issues This Year?
So where should this fourth win-a-trip head to? What issues should be covered? He hopes you will tell him — on Facebook, Twitter and on his blog at http://www.nytimes.com/ontheground.
If you win, you won’t be practicing tourism, but journalism. You’ll blog and file videos for nytimes.com, and you’ll bring a powerful reporting credential that he himself can’t, he says — fresh eyes.
Only one of you can win this contest.
But any of you can put together your own journey. In his blog post about the contest, he has suggested some volunteering possibilities, from helping out at an inspiring hospital in Somaliland to teaching English to brothel children in a Calcutta red light district.
When Kristof was newly married to his Chinese wife, the two traveled to China. They were present for the Tianenmen Square massacres.
He and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, have just published their book “Half the Sky,” about the problems faced by women the world over: sex trafficking and forced prostitution; gender-based violence including honor killings and mass rape; maternal mortality — which claims one woman a minute. They say (about the book):
We know there are many worthy causes competing for attention in the world, [In “Half the Sky”] we focus on this one because this kind of oppression feels transcendent — and so does the opportunity.
Kristof clearly believes that by witnessing, and learning, and reporting, we can help to change the world.
source: Nicholas Kristof’s op-ed piece in the NY Times on 12/14/09. www.nytimes.com.
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