On September 20, NYU Florence will host Imma Vitelli, an international correspondent with Vanity Fair Italy. She recently spent time in North Korea and will share her experiences. She will also host a journalism workshop on September 21-22 for NYU students. The workshop will consider questions such as: How do you report in a totalitarian state with three government minders, two “guides” and a photographer who takes photos of you taking photos of North Korea? How do you come up with a story in a country where you have no freedom at all? Ms. Vitelli will teach what to do, what to avoid and how to see what the state will rather hide.
“Last May, I spent ten days in North Korea, and it was by far the most bizarre experience I have ever had. The idea was to report on the elites supporting the paranoid regime of President Kim Jong-un. We saw champagne flowing in spite of sanctions and children singing the glory of the nuclear program. We dined on a yacht by the river in Pyongyang and felt like we were in a lost galaxy, or in East Berlin, in the 1960s.”
– Imma Vitelli
Austin Basallo, a Gallatin senior studying philosophy, studied abroad in Spring 2016 as a sophomore. While there, he participated in a volunteer trip to the Calais refugee camp. The trip involved students from both NYU London and NYU Paris and was both illuminating and intense for all involve. Austin reflects upon his experience for us:
I did not appreciate the gravity of the situation NYU London was signing me up for. It was a simple email invitation, like so many others, offering abroad students another extracurricular chance to do something “neat,” and for free, in another country. When we boarded the coach parked parallel to Coram’s fields I had little idea how we were getting to France, nor what I’d be doing. It was until a few hours later when our vehicle entered a train which ran through a tunnel to the coast of France that it dawned upon me: I was in a very different place.
Once we exited the train, we drove on a long dirt road along the coast. To our right, the small town of Calias. To our left, a chain wire fence separating us from an appalling site: an endless ocean of tents—rags really. Blues, reds, orange, tattered, high up, down low, and all dirty. All belonging to the refugee camp. We were brought to an isolated warehouse, surrounded by greenery, a quasi-secret base of operations. We actually were at a refugee distribution center, a joint effort ran by Help Refugees and L’auberge des Migrants, two refugee aid organizations.
The moment we hopped out of the coach we were given forms indicating that we would not take photos advertising the location nor would we be handing out this sensitive information once we left. Quasi-base was turning into actual base. I was beginning to experience firsthand just how charged the subject of refugees, and more controversially helping them, was in Europe.
Once signed and handed off, we were guided into the distribution center. Divided into three main sections, the warehouse was home to the three essentials for any human’s survival: food, clothing, and shelter. The food for feeding, the clothing for warming, and the shelter for protecting. All things the refugees were fighting for. Each section had its own system of packaging and sending out their specific materials.
I was assigned to the food section, experiencing firsthand how efficiently 10 people could assemble “care packages” of food. The system was based around packaging boxes based on family size. For a family of ten: 2 liters of oil, 5 kg of rice, 4 cans of beans, etc. Hopefully, enough food to last the recipients a week. Surrounded by industrials racks holding large reserves of food, a collection of tables had bins filled with all of the supplies required. Warm folk music turns on, and people get moving. The veteran volunteers run laps around the newbies, deftly filling up box after box with a variety of food items, knowing that the rice stacks well with the beans but not the oil, and sugar and spices always go at the top so the bags aren’t damaged and the contents spilled. But as time passes, the newcomers find their stride and began filling up boxes just as quickly and effectively. Not much talking happens, everyone is laser-focused on filling up the boxes, as though if lives depended on it. I only realized later that lives did, and continue to, depend on it. Within hours, some two hundred boxes were packaged and ready to be delivered.
After all of this work, lunch time came about and the community of volunteers came together to break bread. All walks of life were present. An old French pair, chatting while eating lentil soup. Several groups of students from both NYU London and NYU Paris, exchanging their experiences abroad. World travelers, people who can’t stop moving but help everywhere they can along the way. A gypsy couple tattooed from head-to-toe with ornate dreadlocks. The environment was so peaceful, removed from all of the politicking about the refugee crisis. These were just people who wanted to help. From the moment I entered the warehouse, I felt like I was a part of a community. A community of helpers, working towards something greater than all of us individually. It did not matter where we came from, or where we were going—the problems of the refugee were so great we all wanted to do something about it, even if only for a moment.
The day was coming to a close. Packages had been sealed, clothes organized, and the warehouse a little tidier than when we found it. We said our goodbyes to newfound friends, walked out of the warehouse, and boarded the coach. On our way back to London, I just began realizing that the experience had been surreal. I accidentally became part of movement that is rocking a continent. The implications are huge, brining in questions of human rights, national sovereignty, and international politics. These controversies played out in my head, inundating me into a deep sleep. A few hours later, I found myself waking up in Bloomsbury. I’m still not sure if I ever left.
Throughout a study abroad experience, students are challenged to look within. Upon arrival, their maturity and independence is tested. This occurs from the moment they are introduced into their new environment. They are pushed to navigate unexpected cultural differences, adapt to a different culture, and problem solve when necessary. This experience teaches students essential life skills which can later be transferred into their professional life.
With this in mind, NYU Wasserman Center for Career Development and NYU Global Programs recently teamed up to host NYU Global Career Week. This week long event was filled with career development seminars and was hosted virtually and in-person. This event encouraged students to start thinking about how they can leverage their study away experience in their next internship or full-time position.
This past March, NYU Sydney hosted Allison Pirpich, Manager of Global Career Development, to led NYU Global Career Week on-campus. During this week, Allison hosted in-person seminars on a global job search, an U.S. job search, and Virtual Interviewing. Allison also hosted a lecture called, “Telling your Global Story,” to the academic internship course that showed students how to identify their skills and translate it to future, professional positions. These seminars showed students how their global experience can be translated to the experience section of their resume, examples in their cover letter, and answers to an interview question. Students learned the key to this process is making their study away experience relevant to the job description and needs of the employer.
In addition to these seminars, Allison met with students in one-on-one coaching appointments. Students brought in a wide-range of questions from, “I have no idea what I want to do after I graduate. How will I decide?” to “How do I search for my next NY internship from Sydney?” These conversations gave students the opportunity to learn what resources were available and how to create a strategy for their next career-related goal. These meetings continued after NYU Global Career Week with virtual coaching appointments and drop-in hours.
This event was accompanied by a Wasserman Global Peer, a student leader who was versed in resume creation, cover letter advice and knowledge of career development resources. This leader led a Resume & Cover Letter Workshop and was an in-person touch point for students throughout the entire semester.
Students often study abroad with the idea of living and working abroad in the future. NYU Global Career Week showed students how to make the case that their experience abroad makes them a valued and competitive candidate. It is important to prepare students with the confidence to demonstrate applicable traits in post-graduation job applications and in the real world.
NYU students across the world have been busy getting settled into new homes, making new discoveries, learning new languages, and more. We at Global Dimensions are excited to continue sharing their stories and more. A few photos from various orientations below, students navigating a new currency, a new campus, exciting new selfie angles, and even the tango!