Journalism students broaden their newsroom in Middle East

Blog entry by Katie Perkowski

I am watching a scene I’ve seen a hundred times at vacation spots like the beaches my family and I have been to. Little kids are running around on the pool deck, making me cringe in fear that they will slip and fall, and the smell of the ocean salt water fills my nose. A little boy about 5 or 6 years old is pushing and pulling his little brother by his T-shirt. The younger boy starts crying because he falls down and hurts himself. Then after a couple minutes plotting revenge on the older brother, his tears quickly dry and he winds up, hitting his brother as hard as he can before running away giggling.

I have seen sibling rivalry and fights a million times at the beach and other places. Except this time, I am not by the ocean, and this beach does not have sand. This salt water comes from the Mediterranean Sea, and this particular beach is filled with rocks instead of sand.

I am on a four-week study abroad trip organized by UK journalism professor and former chief Middle East correspondent Terry Anderson in Beirut, Lebanon, along with four other journalism students and one graduate student. We are entering our third week and are living in the dorms at the American University of Beirut, located in west Beirut. Along with attending lectures throughout the week focusing on politics and topics of the region, we have to come up with an issue to focus on and write a journalism piece about after our four-week trip.

I have been to a few other countries in my lifetime, and with each new place I visit, I learn that no matter where you go, people are generally the same. They are working and hoping for better futures and lives for them and their children. Lebanon, a country of the Middle East that has the possibility of war looming above it, is filled with people just trying to live their daily lives — lives filled with faith, love and family trips to the beach.