Saturday, August 27, 2011

Last Snapshots of Colombia

By Adam Liebendorfer

The wind was howling and most of my body was out of the window.

My boss and I were driving along a cycling team in Colombia’s mountainous central state of Boyaca. Juan’s job was to drive and talk to their coach who was riding shotgun, mine was to film, photograph and get audio of the boys cycling.

It was one of three stories I worked on while in Boyaca. On that particularly day, we were covering a boy’s cycling academy for a multimedia feature for The Post and NPR. One of the team’s best cyclists invited us to his house, where we met his parents, siblings and peacock.Two days later we'd revisit the cycling team — at a 5 a.m. training session before the boys went to school.

# # #

It seemed like we bottomed out every quarter mile.

Packed into my boss’s SUV were him, me, two biologists, a full rig of camera gear and some audio equipment for radio work. We had headed out early that morning in a quest to film some Andean condors.

Except, even in the highlands of central Colombia, that’s no easy feat. The handful of condors that fly in Colombia patrol hundreds of miles a day for any animal carcasses that need “taken out of the ecosystem,” as one of the biologists so aptly told.

Our trip took us to a mountaintop radio array manned by the Colombian army. The soldiers stationed there haven’t seen the effects of country’s decades-long internal conflict for years. So to break up the lulls between drills and meals, they’ve taken up caring for condors.

The base was 15 or so miles out on more of a mountain pass than a real road. Those 15 miles took an hour and half to travel one way. The temperature was a balmy 35 degrees, yet my pale self managed to get the only tan that day in my whole two months in South America: a sunburnt strip on the back of the neck.

We didn’t see any condors that day, but luckily for the video story I had footage from a zoo outside of Bogota that we could use and one of the biologists gave us video of them releasing the birds.

# # #

The third thing I did in Boyaca was lay the groundwork for my big project of the summer: my individual reporting assignment. I went into Boyaca’s capital, Tunja, to talk to the coach of the women’s tejo team from there. The next several weeks were committed to perfecting my skills in the drunken sport of tejo, interviewing the team members and filming the Tejo National Championship. I’d explain the sport, but the link below does it more justice.

Whoever knew I was sports reporter?


"Tejo, Colombia's macho game, becomes a pastime for women"

"Colombian Cyclists Dream Of Racing Out Of Poverty"

"Colombian condors take flight"

Saturday, August 13, 2011

About SUSI experience in Estonian

By Kaja Tampere, Estonia

I wrote little bit in my blogs in Estonian about SUSI 2011 experience:
Story about intercultural relations due SUSI program
About small towns in America (reflections about SUSI cultural tour in the Black Diamond Towns).
The last one was also published in Eesti Päevaleht (Estonian Daily).
Sorry that I'm writing in Estonian and the only possibility to read my text is to study Estonian :) But I think, it is very important to promote our SUSI-idea in the different languages also. Only in that case it will be really international case.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Internet Safety: A Collective Responsibility

By Dr. Vijaya Lakshmi


l watched a TV documentary long back about how the American Security System was strengthened after the assassination of its President John Kennedy. It’s a phenomenon that the U.S. government has developed such a strong security system for the safety of its citizens valuing human life. I was very keen to interact with law enforcement authorities to learn their experiences in combating cyber crime, especially in the context of children.

Dr. Aimee Edmondson, from Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, has fixed an appointment with Andrew D. Powers Chief of Police at the Ohio University Police Department. The conversation throws light on various aspects of online problems. Detective Sergeant Brian Kapple, supervisor of OUPD’s Criminal Investigation Unit, has also joined our conversation. I was quite enthralled to learn that Powers said that the law enforcement agencies don’t take up any activity that denies access to information to its citizens. It reflects the cultural context of the nation. It's considered a matter of democratic freedom and ingrained as a rational thought. From his experience, Powers pointed out that children sometimes fail to develop the interpersonal management skills to deal with crisis situations due to their heavy dependency on digital communication.

Sergeant Brian Kapple opined that the challenge in tackling cyber crimes is enormous because cybercriminals are unfettered by national boundaries, while law enforcement agencies' efforts are limited to local jurisdictions. He also pointed out that responsibility lies with educational institutions and parents to teach online safety for children. There may be some truth in that, but personally I feel it is the collective responsibility of the state and its citizens. Especially when I think of India, my home country, the situation is different where children access Internet at Cybercafé without any proper orientation about online problems which is a major concern for us. I expect the State Government to play a greater role in dealing with these cyber issues. Since cybercrime has no geographical boundaries, I think the global world has to work on a single platform to protect our innocent children from digital dangers.

It really amused me when Powers said in addition to investigating online crimes targeting children, the law enforcement agencies interact with children and their parents about Internet safety through Facebook and Twitter. Something that attracted me is the different Internet rating systems in the U.S., which provides ratings to social networking sites to indicate its status but it is a voluntary activity. The parents can asses the nature of SNS by looking at the ratings.

SUSI is an exciting program that gives me deeper insight into the American system and offers an opportunity to experience the professional and social atmosphere in the U.S. In addition, the hospitality I received from the SUSI staff is overwhelming.