*This is the fourth and final in a series of dispatches from Cape Town, South Africa, where five USC Annenberg students worked as interns for eight weeks. Journalism professor Erna Smith serves as a faculty adviser for the team, which worked for news publications and a diplomatic organization.*
PAARL, South Africa – From June 14-17, Tallie Johnson, Tricia Tongco, Angela Blakely, Lauren Foliart and I co-facilitated a radio journalism workshop with the Koinonia Centre for Youth Development in Paarl, South Africa, for 16 highly engaged and motivated participants aged 16 to 34 (watch the video). Paarl is located about 40 miles north of Cape Town in the beautiful and scenic Cape Winelands. We focused on radio because it’s South Africa’s most accessible medium. It would be an understatement to say we left the workshop inspired by our participants’ dedication, discipline and devotion to journalism and to their communities. I think we learned more from them about the realities of daily life in South Africa than we taught them about radio journalism. The first half-day focused on learning more about radio reporting and interviewing, finalizing story ideas, and paying a group visit to the Afrikaans Language Monument, which overlooks the city of about 80,000. Reporting and editing took place on the second and third days followed by a “graduation” ceremony on the fourth. This is the fourth year in which USC Annenberg students have facilitated a journalism workshop in Paarl, thanks to USC journalism professor Erna Smith.
One of this year’s participants – 20-year-old Ludewyk Amerika – has attended all four and wrote about his experience in his successful application for admission to the University of the Western Cape, where he now studies language and communications studies. Tallie, Tricia, Lauren and Angela each led a team of three to five participants into the field to interview residents about a variety of subjects. All related in one way or another to Youth Day, which occurs each year on June 16 to commemorate the 1976 Soweto uprising led by students protesting the introduction of Afrikaans as the primary language of instruction. I was grateful – given my comparably limited radio journalism skills – to have the opportunity to interact with all the students and to write thumbnail biographies of them for the “graduation” ceremony.