<i>"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simon Bolivar</i> The Narco News Bulletin<br><small>Reporting on the War on Drugs and Democracy from Latin America
 English | Español September 23, 2014 | Issue #67


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The School of Authentic Journalism Empowered Me

Help It to Do the Same for More Independent Journalists in 2012


By Arzu Geybullayeva
Class of 2011, School of Authentic Journalism

December 27, 2011

Dear Friends,

As I boarded the plane departing from Istanbul for Mexico City in early May, my mind was racing with questions. I was flying across the ocean for an experience I was yet to discover. I was going to attend a ten-day School of Authentic Journalism. It was all for the right reasons: the school was offering an intensive training on precise and effective use of journalism skills. But I couldn’t help but wonder whether I was worth being selected for the program, or whether I was going to help at all or whether it was worth going all together? What if my experience as a blogger and regional corresponded was not enough? These and many other questions weighed heavily somewhere in my thoughts as I tried to instead imagine how my experience will be like. Little did I know that this was going be a life changing experience.


Arzu Geybullayeva, Azerbaijani journalist and blogger based in Istanbul, Turkey, attended the 2011 Narco News School of Authentic Journalism as a scholarship recipient. In 2012 she returns as director of its Online Journalism Workgroup. DR 2011 Noah Friedman-Rudovsky.
This is not your ordinary school. Nor this is an ordinary experience. Everything about the School of Authentic Journalism is more than just ordinary. The teaching style, the overall atmosphere, the extraordinary professors and speakers, and no less talented scholars that attend the school, and the settings, simply put, make the J-School a worthwhile experience not only for professional development reasons but for a time well invested in a program that is bound to change one’s life in so many different ways.

I was amazed by the diverse and rich background of the scholars participating in the program. They were from all over the world: The Americas, Europe, Africa, you name it. We all had something to share as well. Be it experience, an incredible survival story, knowledge or wisdom.

The style of teaching here makes you question the whole educational system. At least that’s how I felt during my time at the school. The constant interaction between scholars and professors during workshop hours, or lectures or during the time spent outside of work groups symbolized one of the main principles of the school, that we all are here to learn from each other. In fact, these words stuck in my mind from the first day when we all attended the inaugural dinner and introduced ourselves. It was something that the founder of the school, Al Giordano, said in his opening remarks. Hearing those words right there; I knew this was the beginning of a very special and memorable journey to come.

Leaving the school and the city of Mexico on my flight back to Istanbul, I felt empowered. As I sat in my seat, I remembered the questions pacing in my head before coming to the school. I thought of the excitement I had. The School of Authentic Journalism gave me something I would have never got anywhere else. The sheer knowledge of it all would be enough but it wasn’t just that. The reason why I felt empowered was because I knew that these 80 something persons are there for me. Perhaps at times not all of them, but I knew that I have just introduced myself to a world of new, bright and talented organizers, speakers, and professionals. But above all, I knew that they understood me. They accepted me and listened to me as I shared with them stories about my own country, Azerbaijan.

I am now looking forward to returning to the school as a professor to teach the online journalism group where I was a scholar last year. I have so many ideas to share and again the excitement is taking over me. I don’t have questions anymore. I am simply thrilled by the opportunity.

And this is why I need your help! I was the lucky recipient of the J- school scholarship that the school was able to provide thanks to generous people like you, reading this letter now. I am positive that you too, like previous kind supporters of the J-School will make a contribution letting this unforgettable experience touch many others. Help us to give more scholars this life changing opportunity. It is so important that the school continues to survive, bringing together new scholars, and creating endless opportunities for those who care.

Please make a contribution today. You can do it online via The Fund for Authentic Journalism website:

http://www.authenticjournalism.org

Or you can mail a check to:

The Fund for Authentic Journalism
PO Box 1446
Easthampton, MA 01027 USA

I would like to personally thank everyone for your invaluable support!

Sincerely,

Arzu Geybullayeva

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The Narco News Bulletin: Reporting on the Drug War and Democracy from Latin America