Pospisil’s Sexta English RFE/RL
08. December 2017
On the 30th of November 2017, 15 sexta students and their English teacher, Mrs. Pospíšil, took a field trip to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Prague, near the Želivského metro station. The excursion included a brief history of the radio, a tour and an interview with some of the journalists working there. The event lasted from 1:30-4:30pm.
After the group arrived at RFE/RL, they were greeted by strict security, which really brought home the message that this was an important location in need of protection. Once through the multiple guards, students were greeted by their guide, Ms. Evgeniya Kolovanova, who proceeded to share the background and historical purpose of the Radio; after that she began the tour through the unique, modern, and complex design of the building. While on the tour, students were introduced to multiple news service agencies and departments, including the live news feed and social media department, as well as a stop at the Kurgis News Service. Students were impressed by the variety of languages being spoken all around, though English and Russian were by far the two that united the teams the most. The tour concluded with a long interview with the Director of the Uzbek Services, Mr. Alisher Siddique, who is, according to the RFE/RL website, “a pioneer in using the latest digital platforms to break the information blockade in one of the world’s most closed societies.” The group felt incredibly lucky to have him devote so much of his time to them.
These sexta students went to visit Radio Free Europe because they had been researching social issues in Central Asia in preparation for reading a biography/memoir novel called: Little Angels: Life as a Novice Monk in Thailand. To prepare, each student had researched a different Asian country and its culture and then went on to design a formal, structured pamphlet on the country concerning the researched issue. As RFE/RL specializes for post-Soviet Union states, Mrs. Pospisil felt that this trip would tie nicely with things studied in class, and it did. With help of Mr. Siddique, students were able to gain a deeper understand their topics and had the opportunity to explore the background of journalism and current day media news reporting.
First of all, Ms. Konovalova told the sexta students about the history of the Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty and informed them about the movement of radio’s influence from the countries behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold war to post Soviet countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. This happened because the collapse of the Soviet Union didn’t mean the collapse of communism entirely, meaning that democracy and freedom still weren’t everywhere. The RFE/RL operates in 23 countries right now from its headquarters in Prague and the class had the opportunity to learn about the Radio’s changing and important role in that change.
The final stop on the tour was the impressive-looking conference room where students were able to ask their questions about the role of the media in reporting on local issues. They learned a lot about the system of getting news in Uzbekistan from the Director of the Uzbek service. Mr. Siddique shared that the Radio has only ten actual reporters on the payroll in Uzbekistan, and instead they rely on civilian journalists to report what they see via an online social platform called “Telegram”.
This concluded the trip’s scheduled time at the Radio, though three students and Mrs. Pospisil were invited to one more exciting experience: they were interviewed by a Kyrgyzstani journalist about their knowledge and views on Central Asian countries, especially Kyrgyzstan. The hard-hitting questions from the journalist were slightly intimidating at times, but our Open Gate students held their own and answered thoughtfully and with integrity. Brief parts of their interview will be aired on the Kurgis morning news show sometime in the days to come.
Overall, the trip was in informative, interesting, and highly-educational. It has definitely given these few OG students new insight into the ever-changing role of journalism and reporting today.