When I think of college study-abroad programs, I tend to assume that most students’ experiences, pretty much wherever they go, involve some combination of: local beer, perspective-altering cultural exchanges, imported beer, humorous misunderstandings deriving from those perspective-altering cultural exchanges, and, generally, beer. I tend also to assume, therefore, that the stories resulting from those programs are interesting only to the people who experienced them firsthand and, maybe, to their immediate family and friends.
But here’s hoping that my assumptions are wrong. Because we learned today that GlobalPost, the ambitious site solely dedicated to international reporting, will soon be featuring a Study Abroad page, populated by the collected works of its new Student Correspondent Corps. Yes. Here’s the ad inviting submissions:
Studying abroad for the summer, the semester, or a year? Become part of the international Student Correspondent Corps, earning school credit and clips! We seek submissions written in a clear, concise, direct and, hopefully, charming Web style as seen on our website, www.globalpost.com. What were their first impressions of their host country? What aromas, colors, textures, etc. did they see in high-definition? What experiences defined their travels and moments abroad? What did people say to them about the world, about the US, about their host country, etc. that made them ponder awhile and what observations and/or conclusions did they come to? Most importantly, what most rubbed against what they previously thought before arriving abroad? What stirred up their thoughts the most?
A GlobalPost Study Abroad page could lead to: 1). some surprising, moving, and revealing pieces by students whose work normally doesn’t get featured on prestigious sites like GlobalPost; or, 2). stories about some giggle-making confusion between the words “galoshes” and “rubbers” (and, also, beer). Either way, the broadening of its writers’ stable (for free—submissions are uncompensated) is a telling experiment from, as we’ve noted before, an outlet that is—by design and by necessity—all about experimentation.Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.