Aaron Marshburn (FF ’11) earlier this year received a Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD) Scholarship to spend six weeks at Freie Universität Berlin’s International Center for Journalism.
To gain insight into the perspectives and positions at play in 21st century geopolitics, Aaron joined more than a dozen other German-speaking American journalism students over the summer to develop their academic awareness of the politics, society, and culture of Germany, as well as the media structure and working conditions for journalists in that country.
The program also placed him for five weeks as a metro reporter at Die Welt/Berliner Morgenpost, where he published articles and contributed reporting to several major stories on topics as varied as a bacterial outbreak in the Spandau District water supply to ongoing campaigns for local elections to the 51st German-American Festival, a longstanding Berlin tradition. "Writing and researching in German was a daily challenge," Aaron says, "but that's part of what made the job so satisfying."
He approaches intercultural communication with the perspective that "everyone has a story to tell. It doesn’t matter how old they are, rich or poor, educated or not – there is something you can learn from every single person in the world," says Aaron, who in May earned degrees in journalism and international affairs from UGA.
Besides working a part-time job at CNN’s Idea Lab in Atlanta, Aaron has taken a hands-on foreign correspondence course in Prague, worked as a volunteer for special-needs children at a camp in South Africa, and has had travel-study stints in Cambodia, Costa Rica, England, Fiji, and Thailand.
“Cultural understanding is about reaching peak moments of existence that break down the elusive barriers separating one person from another,” says Aaron, who in 2010 was honored by UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication as a McGill Fellow. “From the refugee camps along the troubled Thai-Burma border to Xhosa primary schools in the rough townships of South Africa’s eastern cape, I’ve spent every summer learning to tell stories that matter.”
The program that perhaps had the most impact on Marshburn’s interest in international journalism was the 11-day foreign correspondents course he took in Prague, where he “toured Radio Free Europe and engaged in focused discussions with international media professionals representing The New York Times and The Economist, among others,” he says. “In the second part of the course, I planned and executed a piece of original reportage about the issues surrounding the prospective expansion of the Temelin Nuclear Power Plant near the Austrian border.”
In addition to the UGA Foundation Fellowship and the McGill Fellowship, Marshburn was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and Blue Key Honor Society and won a grant to attend the Asian American Journalists Association National Convention in 2010.
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