Here's a self congratulatory note– yours truly has been selected as an Alfred Friendly Fellow 2008.
What does this mean? To a third world journalist like me, it means a lot. It means that it is possible for a journalist working at a vernacular magazine to make it to the byline in one of respected US newspapers. It means I will have opportunity to compare notes with journalists from eight countries: India, China, Pakistan, Turkey, Uruguay, Brunei, Hungary and Kenya.
It means I would be able to visit offices of, among others, The Washington Post; I'll attend a weeklong seminar at Poynter, a popular American institute for journalism training and visit places I've never imagined I would.
Let me come to the basic of the six-month fellowship program. I am flying on a Dragon Air flight from Kathmandu. I have a seven-hour stopover at Hong Kong Airport.
A Cathy Pacific flight will land me at Tom Bradley International Airport in Los Angeles, California. From there, I'll take an American Airlines flight to Washington, DC. This four-hour forty-five minute flight will literally take me from one end of America to the other. I'll reach the capital of the US in the middle of the night.
Once in DC, I will meet Susan Albrecht and Katie Ravenel with whom I've spoken to, exchanged mails but have not seen in person. At Club Quarters Hotel in Washington, I'll meet Alfred Friendly Fellows: Lucia Baldomir (Uruguay), Akos Beothy (Hungary), Utku Cakirozer (Turkey), Umar Farooq Cheema (Pakistan), Sopan Joshi (India), Sonia Kaur (Brunei), Andrew Kipkemboi and Samuel Siringi (Kenya) and Yunting Ivan Zhai (China).
The Fellowship kicks off with a two-week long orientation seminar in Washington, DC. During the seminar, we learn about American culture, American press and the challenges and rewards of reporting in America. As far as I know, Gary Weaver, a professor at American University will warm us up through his lectures for our sojourn in the US.
At the end of the seminar, I will be joined by my mentor Greg Victor, Op-Ed and forum editor of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Greg has mentored several Alfred Friendly Fellows and I look forward to a wonderful stint at Post-Gazette with his guidance and support. On April 1, (April Fool's day but I hope it's just a coincidence), Greg and I will embark on the much-awaited journey to Pittsburgh, a city of rivers.
If this is getting tedious, let me cut it short (by the way, I'll be posting about my fellowship in this as well as in a separate blog, so stay connected). During the summer, the fellows gather at Poynter (Florida) where we learn the techniques of good story writing, editing et al. Florida also offers a lovely beach where I gather we'll be having a lot of fun. Then, again back to the newsroom of Post-Gazette: honing my skills, sharing knowledge and experiences with my colleagues there.
Ah, talking about colleagues, I recall that two of my former colleagues of Nepal Weekly have made America their second home. I wish to meet Chandra Khatiwada, (our former layout designer) in New York and Dinesh Jung Shah (ex-sports reporter and now a wanderer in the US). It would be lovely to meet these two wonderful human beings in a faraway land.
Finally, at the end of August, we arrive in Washington, DC to wrap up the program and bid adieu to our newfound friends. Then comes the happy homecoming!
With this fellowship, I hope to turn a new leaf in my career.