Monday, April 16, 2018

Community school's first newspaper hits the newsstands

(Gondar, Ethiopia)--As a teacher, what do you do when your students want to meet with you on a Friday night or Saturday? Once you’re done picking your jaw up off the floor, there’s only one response: Just say when and where, kids.

This happened three times during the last six weeks or so, as a group of ten 7th graders from Gondar University Community School produced their school’s first student newspaper. I was their Journalism 101 instructor for a month or so, then became their advisor as work began on the paper. I was assisted by teacher Habtie Marew and Peggy Landers, an American teaching second grade and working with the 7th grade students in the English Club.
The fruits of their labor, which they named the Community School Times, is posted here. 400 copies of the paper will be distributed at the school this week.
I am bursting with pride over this five page gem. As you read it, keep in mind that this was produced by 7th graders in their second (or third) language. There’s no way my French or Spanish classmates and I could have produced anything as sophisticated in 7th grade or even as seniors. Not only is this produced in a foreign language, it is these students’ first exposure to journalism, and first time writing news stories. Note how good the leads are, as well as the headlines. There’s a lot to build on here.

The students have already started asking about producing more newspapers, a request that warmed my heart. We are working on getting the kids a computer and some page design software. We are also figuring out how to set up a fund to pay printing expenses. 

Gondar’s newest journalists don’t know it yet, but even when I’m thousands of miles away, they won’t be rid of me. I plan to continue to offer them feedback and encouragement as they work on additional issues this year and into the future. However, I can’t promise that I’ll answer their emails on a Saturday night.

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