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18 students, most of them high-school age. It’s a 3-month training course at kloop.kg, and I kicked it off as the trainer for the first 5 days. My posse of translators (assistants, co-teachers, jokesters, coaches) were AUCA journalism students: Batyr, Elina and Masha. We talked in English, Kyrgyz and Russian about the who, what, when, where, why. And how. We talked about what it takes to be a journalist, what journalists do, what makes a story.

Today was Day 5: distributing press badges, rewriting Little Red Riding Hood into a news story (Hunter Saves Girl and Grandmother; Kills Wolf), breaking into story teams and going after the story topics they chose–homelessness, Bishkek’s construction boom, a look at how the city maintains its parks, safety issues for roadside food vendors, bicycle vs. car transport, a move afoot to ban cars with steering wheels on the right-hand side.

Why did I come to Kyrgyzstan? For this. For the everything of this.

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“In summary I can conclude that foreign media usually cover issues about Kyrgyzstan in negative side. And it is still unclear why external journalists, especially from USA try to cause cordial dislike by their coverage. But, of course political reason is the most exact and important in this problem.”

~ from a student paper about external media in Kyrgyzstan

The Hand Project

hand9hand8hand7hand6We are talking ethics in one of the classes I am teaching this semester. There are 11 students in that class, and last week we discussed the symbol of the hand in our differing cultures. Give me your hand in marriage. Raising a hand to swear I will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God. The handshake, palmistry, praying, hand holding, hello + goodbye in the same gesture with the hand. Then we created The Hand Project. The idea: Interview people about their ethics, their principles. Engage them in a conversation about what they hold to be true in their deepest center. Then ask them to choose the one principle or value that is most important to their lives and write it on their hand. Any language. A word, phrase or sentence. The students are collecting the images, and in the spring, we will study them for what they might tell us and make an exhibition.

The assignment includes each of the ethics students also participating. Here is what eight of them had to say. From top to bottom: Inna, Asipa, Usha, Batyr, Masha, Lynn, Sergei, Ekaterina.

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