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6 countries, 10 cherubs: International students take on academics

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International students have a unique experience at cherubs. Photo by Rajeshwari Rawal

This year’s international cherubs hail from six countries: England, Canada, Colombia, Qatar, China, and South Korea. The ten international students describe their experience at Medill cherubs as enriching and impactful to their careers in journalism. 

Clara Martinez of London, England praised the hands-on nature of the program, which she said is more immersive than her school at home. 

“I’ve noticed a difference in the way that we’re encouraged to be really creative and seek our own ideas and go out and do interviews,” she said. “That’s something that we don’t get a lot of experience doing in my journalism classes.”

Mariam Ahmed of Doha, Qatar said the cherubs curriculum allowed her to practice journalism “closer to reality.” Compared to her school’s focus on independent exams, she said the cherubs curriculum has felt more collaborative.  

“In real life, we’re not going to only be sitting for exams,” Ahmed said. “We’re going to have work in the field, we’re actually going to have to interview people…and we actually get to do all that stuff in this program.”

Junseo Lee from Seoul, South Korea agrees that the cherubs curriculum differs from what he’s used to at his high school newspaper. He acknowledges that his school system prioritizes academic rigor and rote memorization instead of genuine interest. He said that it’s “great to see” that his fellow cherubs are “actually passionate about journalism here.”

For some cherubs, cultural differences pose a challenge.

“I feel like a lot of people here immediately know the context of what people are talking about,” said Angelica Pardo of Bogotá, Colombia, “especially political context and social context.”

Although she knows about U.S. history, Pardo said that she’s not as knowledgeable about the inner workings of the country.  “It’s been a little bit of a struggle trying to ask people, ‘Wait, what’s that, what’s Watergate?’” she said. 

Despite traveling thousands of miles to arrive in Evanston, Illinois, the experience has been worth it for international cherubs. 

“I was really thankful for the amount of things we got to learn,” Christina Lin of Beijing, China, said. “And getting to hear from actual journalists in the field was something really special.”

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