Published December 11, 2012
Dear Educators —
The Pulitzer Center education team brought our model of classroom engagement on under-told stories to major cities in Europe last month, working with students in London, Paris, and Berlin on water and sanitation, resource extraction, and gender imbalance. All told, we reached more than a dozen secondary schools and universities in two weeks, visiting in some cases five classes at the same school.
Pulitzer Center mainstay Stephen Sapienza, Nigerian writer Ameto Akpe, English videojournalist Jim Wickens and Berliner Carl Gierstorfer spoke in venues ranging from a packed “TED-style” talk in the high school auditorium at the American School of Paris to a class of six 11-year-olds at Paddington Academy in London who interviewed us on camera about safe water access in the developing world as part of a BBC News School Report project. An evening talk at City University in London, a master class at the Sciences Po in Paris, and a presentation to the European Fellows at the Free University in Berlin composed a series of stimulating university engagements that explored the Pulitzer Center approach through the distinct lens of European journalism students. We learned a lot about how these young reporters view the profession in Europe, and we look forward to offering more in the coming months.
The American School in London proved a strong foundation for our outreach in England. Ameto, Jim, Steve and I returned to ASL every day during our time in London to speak with journalism, history, and environmental studies classes at various grade levels. Trips to St. Augustine’s, Paddington, and Quintin Kynaston rounded out the England tour.
At the American School of Paris we built on our year-long theme exploring government, corporate, and media accountability with a lively discussion of labor abuses in the Thai shrimp industry. And discussions the following day with 16 to 18-year-olds at the Institut de la Tour revolved around the media diet of French teenagers.
In Berlin, videographer Carl Gierstorfer joined us for a busy couple of days at the Paul Natorp, Nelson Mandela, John Lennon, and Berlin International schools. Carl’s German fluency allowed us to present his work on the social effects in India of a pervasive cultural preference for boy babies to German school children in their native language. Steve and I, often during the same class period, spoke in English about water and extractives to their English-fluent peers.
These interactions, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, provided me with many vivid moments to highlight in my presentations at the European Council of International Schools conference in Nice, which closed out our Europe tour. The interest that was evident among the teachers and administrators who attended gives me great confidence that we are poised for significant growth in our upcoming spring visits, and our online materials will help keep the conversations going year-round.
I’d like to extend a welcome to schools and universities in Europe who’d like to be a part of our work there. We’re off to a strong start, but there is much room for growth. Join us!
— Mark Schulte, education director