From being strangers to becoming a reporting team

Nearly three weeks have passed since our group first boarded a flight together from Boston to Thessaloniki. At the time, I was friends with just three people in the group of 18 students. The others I had only met a couple times, or not at all.

People who travel together on Northeastern Dialogue of Civilizations always get close. How can you not? For four to five weeks straight, you are living, eating, studying and socializing with the same group of people.

But on this Dialogue, I think we’ve surpassed the standard level of group bonding (if you don’t believe me, there’s a post incoming on Suma’s blog about how we all helped shave her head today).

There’s something special about working on our stories together—watching people’s strengths and talents shine, having our collective blood, sweat and tears come together to produce something wonderful.

Bridget came with me to interview Maria Bozoudi, an adjunct professor at the American College of Thessaloniki, about start-up culture in Greece. / Photo by Olivia Arnold

I’m amazed every time someone selflessly offers to help another person with their story (whether that be providing photographs or videos, giving a good pre-Carlene edit or tagging along to interviews and splitting the cab fares). Just check out Cody’s profile about 70-year-old classical guitar maker Giannis Paleodimopoulos in the Greek village of Kato Scholari. The piece is incredibly well-written, but it truly comes to life with video by Gwen and photos by Sydne.

My first published story on Greece’s youth “brain drain” would have been nothing without Suma’s photographs and graphic. It was great to be able to work together on the story, mainly from our respective beds for hours on the day leading up to our deadline.

Suma took this shot of me interviewing an Aristotle University student about Greece’s job prospects. / Photo by Suma Hussien

Last weekend in Chios, I got to see Suma in action again, but this time as a videographer (photos, graphics, filming, editing—is there anything this girl can’t do?) I also worked closely for the first time with Ellie, who served as our on-camera reporter and producer.

Chios was an intense reporting experience, one which left me grappling with feelings of guilt and tough questions concerning morality. But I am thankful that I had Suma and Ellie there by my side for the reporting and in the days following.

I was (and still am) in awe of the two of them. They are both immensely talented, intimidatingly smart and relentlessly hardworking. But beyond being good reporters, they are two of the most friendly, empathetic and nonjudgmental people I have ever met. Having them to talk to after the Chios trip, when we were all feeling the weight of our work, was invaluable in my processing of it all.

Ellie and Suma “working” on transcribing our interviews. / Photo by Olivia Arnold

It’s fascinating to watch our group transform from strangers to a fully functioning reporting team. I’m now so comfortable with certain people that I have to step back and remind myself: you didn’t know this person three weeks ago. 

And when you think about it, that’s really a beautiful thing. At first, we had to work together because our grades depended on it. But collaborating for the sake of our stories has been nothing short of a magical process, one that introduced me to incredible fellow reporters and, hopefully, to some long-term friends.

This blog post also appeared on the Northeastern University School of Journalism website.


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