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Pulitzer Center Update May 30, 2010

Ninth Grade Students Learn from a Crisis Reporter

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In 2008, there were over 2,100 civilians casualties across Afghanistan. US airstrikes accounted for...

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Originally published by the Francis W. Parker School, Chicago

Students in the 9th grade have spent the semester working on action projects built around international crises such as the quake in Haiti and the war in Afghanistan. They have been spearheading plans that range from raising money for schools to establishing pen pals in distressed countries. On Monday, May 3, the 9th grade students attended a presentation by and discussion with Jason Motlagh, a reporter who has spent the last several years writing from Afghanistan. He also represented the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, with whom the students have been working.

Motlagh talked about his experiences as a reporter in Afghanistan, specifically the manner in which he "tries to put a face to the numbers you hear about every day: 45 civilians dead in an air strike, 100 dead in a raid." The Pulitzer Center's mission is to cover those stories that may be going unreported, and Motlagh spent more than an hour with the 9th grade discussing the stories he has chosen to cover, from the serious and dramatic (the impact of civilian casualties on the increase in American resistance in Afghanistan) to the inspiring (the growth of bodybuilding as a professional sport, which thrives even in areas of Afghanistan that have almost no infrastructure). Students had the opportunity to ask questions about the nature of reporting from war zones and the effect of this reporting on the views of Americans regarding Afghan citizens.

As the students continue working on their global action projects, the opportunity to meet with someone who has spent time around the world addressing the needs of society was an invaluable opportunity. The 9th graders took away a new resolve to continue the action work they've been developing throughout the second semester.