Ciao Përshëndetje, Obrigado: For MUDEC students, doing journalism abroad is way different

students at the Roman Forum

More than 60 Miami students of all majors took journalism classes at the university’s Luxembourg center this year while senior clinical faculty member Annie-Laurie Blair was based there.

But asking someone for an interview in Europe is a whole different ballgame than stopping someone on the Slant Walk.

Rian Sondag, a second-year theater major, needed to interview a person of Portuguese descent living in Luxembourg. “Finally finding that person, and realizing this person had just the story I needed, was so satisfying,” she explains.

Blair was the first Media, Journalism & Film professor in decades to teach at MUDEC for an entire year. “It was incredibly regarding to see students identify good stories abroad and overcome their interviewing fears – often enlisting classmates or strangers to translate,” says Blair.

Each class took a Study Tour for five or six days to another country – Kosovo, Portugal or Italy – to work on a group journalism project.

In Perugia, Italy, for example, Introduction to Journalism students studied the case of American study abroad student Amanda Knox, arrested 10 years earlier in the brutal murder of her roommate.

Their project, “In Perugia, Ghosts of Knox Case Still Linger,” reports on Italy’s criminal justice system, drug trafficking and objectification of women.

Meanwhile, Foreign Correspondence students studied the strong pattern of Portuguese people moving to Luxembourg for well-paying jobs.

Sondag and her classmates interviewed 20 people of Portuguese descent in the Grand Duchy to understand why they left home. They then interviewed more than 30 people in two coastal Portuguese towns about why they stayed.

“I was looking for students in Portugal, and they were eager to talk about their future and their lives,” says Sondag, who took both Introduction to Journalism and Foreign Correspondence classes with Blair at MUDEC.