I just finished my final week as a Knight International Journalism Fellow at the American University in Cairo. Well, at least the funding runs out this week. I still have some chores to do, like a report and a final article, and we’re hosting a visit next week by the director of the center that administers the fellowships.
After the big night (see below) with the filmmaker/journalists in my documentary classes, I was ready to sleep for a week. But I had committed to one final week of training: a four-day intensive video journalism course with reporters and editors from Islam Online. The Internet news and religious information service is planning to move into television, as it moves into a new building in October 6th City in Cairo. So I had 13 people wanting to learn more about doing television journalism with small cameras and computer editing.
We rushed through the basics and produced a story about a new newspaper about to start publishing in Cairo. It was hectic and much too quick, but they seemed to enjoy themselves. And even though I was wiped out (and had started a new round of Arabic classes the same week), I had fun.
With the fellowship ended, I’ve got lots of other things in the works for the coming weeks/months. I’ll be here in Cairo for a couple of weeks, then in Mali for a week (off to Timbuktu!), and then in Beirut and possibly South Africa in July. I’ll come through Cairo again in August to finish a short film about an NGO that works with underprivileged children. Then I’ll likely spend some time in Turkey before I start slouching toward New York again.
It’s been an amazing nine months in so many ways. And as I look back, I think working with reporters and budding filmmakers has not only made me a better teacher, but also a better journalist and storyteller. The people at AUC and the Center for Electronic Journalism have been so lovely and supportive. I’ve bonded with veteran reporter and fellow fellow Steve Franklin, whose friendship I’ll always treasure. In spite of the lonely periods, the isolation and the chaos of Cairo, I can truly say I’m glad I came.