August 25, 2014, Cairo, Egypt -- Ten graduate students from the Kamal Adham Center for Television and Digital Journalism at The American University in Cairo (AUC) were hosted by the London-based Al Ghad Al Arabi television station in their Washington, D.C. bureau for six weeks this summer as part of a media internship program. Using cameras provided by the Kamal Adham center, the students were tasked with producing stories and videos on the city, covering events spanning from crime-ridden neighborhoods to the more affluent government center area, and attending press briefings by the U.S. Department of State. By the end of the six weeks, the students had utilized their knowledge of television production to publish more than 20 stories.
“Working as part of a team turned out to be one of the best things I’ve ever gone through,” said Douaa Fatfat, one of the students in the group. “We were assigned to work in groups of three, which was a first for me because we always work on our video assignments individually for our classes at the Kamal Adham center. It made me realize how challenging it can be to work with different mindsets and views. It’s important to learn how to work with people as a team in order to accomplish a goal.”
For a month, Abra Al Atlasi aired four stories on a weekly basis, all of which were produced by the students, who were also present on-air to discuss the stories. This was a first in the history of the channel and for the Kamal Adham center. “The students’ efforts were remarkable,” said Hafez Al Mirazi, director of the Kamal Adham center who accompanied the students on the trip, monitoring and critiquing their work before being aired on Television, as well as providing general guidance. The idea they came up with, their diligent reporting and the diversified, well-balanced stories they produced made us all proud. This is truly a great investment in our students, who not only developed their journalistic skills, but also their ability to adapt different cultures, be agile, operate outside of their comfort zone and see how journalism is conducted in other parts of the world. It’s a value-added experience for the students, the center and all parties involved.
Mohamed Al-Setouhi, host of the Abra Al Atlasi, echoed similar sentiments. “The stories they produced offered a new eye,” said Mohamed Al-Setouhi, host of the Abra Al Atlasiprogram that airs on Al Ghad Al Arabi. “Everything they saw around them and came across was new, inciting their curiosity. They explored areas that a reporter stationed in Washington, D.C. would normally overlook.”
During their six-week internship in Washington, D.C., the students produced a series of videos on diversified topics.
A story produced by Farah Yousry and Rawan Ezzat covered protests taking place in key areas across Washington, D.C., including in front of the White House and Israeli Embassy, in order to explore American media coverage of the Israeli strikes in Gaza. “We were given complete editorial freedom to choose the story ideas and angles,” Yousry said. “In our story, we made sure to include all arguments and sides of the story, which we are not used to typically hearing in Egyptian and Arab media.”
Another story produced by Fatfat explored the relationship between obesity and the varying incomes of residents across the city. The story surveyed grocery stores in the neighborhood of Anacostia, whose occupants mostly fall into low socioeconomic brackets, and compared them to more affluent neighborhoods. “It was interesting to see the food options that are available in different demographics,” she remarked. “Interestingly, there was an apparent disparity in the healthy food choices like fruits and vegetables, as lower-income neighborhoods hardly had any access to such food items.”
The group, which included Fatfat and two other interns, Adham Zidan and Heidi Suleiman, ran an on-camera experiment to illustrate how much healthy food could be purchased for five dollars in both an upscale grocery store and a grocery store in a lower-income area.
In a similar vein, Salma Serry, Mai Abdel Moaty and Yara Enany were enticed by the concept of farmers’ markets, which are held regularly in the nearby county of Fairfax, Virginia. They chose to visit the outskirts of Washington to investigate how American farms are operated.
Serry and her group noted that U.S. farmers were different from their Egyptian counterparts in that they initiate and maintain direct relations with their buyers, thanks to the farmers’ markets. As a result of this, farmers respond more to the demands of the market as well as maintain higher quality levels in their products.
Serry and her team were also surprised to find that a sizable number of farmers in the area had chosen their current careers over ones in engineering or even media — something that would rarely happen in Egypt.
“The internship really opened my eyes in so many ways,” said Yousry. “This experience was very rich, and I'm happy to have done it during my graduate studies at the Kamal Adham center. We gained hands-on television production experience with a news channel and, at the same time, got exposed to a culture that is very different from our own.”