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2 posts from March 2013

03/06/2013

Interviews on the Street

By Eleanor Klibanoff, George Washington University

 

I am taking International Reporting, a class through the new Communications, New Media and Journalism program that was launched this semester. The class is unique in its hands-on nature. Students are given the tools to become foreign correspondents and then sent out into the field to put their training to good use. For our first, practice news assignment, my classmates and I were tasked with writing an article about how the recent presidential election in the Czech Republic was impacting the growth of the Communist Party.

I knew that there was a new president, but that was as far as my knowledge reached on the intricacies of Czech politics. I had no idea how my neighbors felt about the election, but I assumed that if Zeman had won, he must be well-liked. Oh, how wrong I was.

Once I started interviewing Czech people on the street, I learned that it was much more complicated than it first appeared. Most residents of Prague did not vote for Zeman. He is well liked in the towns and villages outside of the capital, and they managed to get him into office despite support for his opponent in the city.

Czechs seem very reserved at first meeting and are rarely overly expressive. But during the process of writing my article, I found the hot button issue that gets them talking: politics, more specifically, Communism. I spent almost an hour at the Karlovo Namesti metro stop talking to an excited old woman with the translation help of her young granddaughter. She had lived under Communism and was very upset that the new president had made allusions to cooperation with the marginal party. By the time I was done with the interview, I not only had great color for my story but had spent an enjoyable morning getting the political lay of the land from those who are living it: the Czechs themselves.

Sunshine in Prague

By Eleanor Klibanoff, George Washington University

 

Today, as I walked to my internship at Radio Free Europe, I was excited to see something I hadn’t seen much of since I had been in Prague: sunshine. Prague is beautiful, there is no doubt, but it is also noticeably gloomy in February. Since we’ve been here, there has been mere hours of sun and I’ve got the pasty skin to prove it.

The overcast skies, which always seem to be threatening snow, give Prague a certain morose beauty and make it easy to wile away the hours in a cafe, disinclined as I am to go back outside into the bitter cold. There is something very Czech about the weather here--not too encouraging at first glance, but comfortable and familiar as the season wears on.

While I’ve gotten used to lugging around my puffy coat, strapping on my snow boots and always having my gloves in my pocket, the main thing I’ve missed has been the sunshine. Even during the depths of winter in Washington, D.C., where I go to school, there are bright, crisp days where spring feels like more than just a far-off fantasy. Feeling the sun on my face, warming me as I depart the metro stop, I feel revived, even if my decision to wear ballet flats and forego socks was a wee bit premature. Temperatures are expected to raise into the 40’s and 50’s this week, and I am excited to explore the city more in the nice climate.