I’ve just landed back in Rwanda, which loyal readers who’ve forgiven years of mostly silence on this blog will recall as my favorite place on Earth, and I’m gearing up for some really exciting work with the International Reporting Project, as one of their six New Media Fellows this year.
By the way, this crop of New Media Fellows, IRP’s first, is something special (if I’m allowed to say so). After stiff competition for only six spots, guess what happened? We’re all women. We’re diverse – I’m the only white face in the crowd – and we’re all over the world. Also, we’re engaging with media not just as traditional journalists, but as bloggers, novelists, poets, publishers and more. So if you aren’t already following IRP’s New Media Fellows, you should. You can catch us all on Twitter via this handy list, or you can follow our blogging, aggregated at IRP's blog site.
I’ve been preoccupied with getting things in order, so my reporting begins in earnest soon, but I can’t resist sharing some tidbits. I’m amazed, still, how quickly things can change. The former US Embassy is now apartment buildings. The Marriott hotel is taking shape, one shiny glass sheet at a time. Rwanda’s first movie theater opened last week, in the country’s first “skyscraper” (as a New Yorker, I have to use the quotes – it’s only 12 stories tall). I’m awash in one of the world’s most wonderful feelings – the rediscovery of a place you love, the introduction to all its new parts, and the unexpected reimagination of yourself that follows. Place is important.
But I’m here to work, not wax philosophical. Here’s where the chance to boss me around comes in: I’m off to South Africa shortly, for some stories about the current situation on AIDS. If you have questions you think I should ask, or things you think I should look into, drop me a line. Tweet me, email me, or subscribe to my FB feeds and send me a message.
If you prefer critique to advice, follow along. I’m feeling my way around Instagram, and I’ll have an occasional radio diary. I hope you’ll be patient as I find the right balance of sights, sounds and story, and I hope you’ll offer great ideas along the way.
Most of all, I hope that any of you running around with smartphones or sound recorders of any kind will share cool things that you hear and capture. Send me your sounds, and let’s see what kind of aural mosaic of Africa we can make together!
Thanks for following along, and don’t be a stranger.
When the seasons change, people in New York are electric. They waltz across basketball courts and gun engines at red lights and dance in the street to car stereos. They pet each other's dogs and chat across fences and look each other in the eyes as they pass each other on the street. Sometimes total strangers talk to each other.
I was encumbered walking home, two big bags over my shoulders, a hot cup of coffee in one hand, and a long orchid in a small pot in the other. I'm house-sitting the orchid, sort of. It was passed to me by a friend who's off working, and when I'm off working, she's going to have to take care of it for me. This is how we work.
"Is that for me?" asked an elderly woman, still wrapped in winter's down, as I approached her on my block. I realized there was no reason it couldn't be.
I stopped. I asked her, "Would you like it?"
"No," she said firmly.
I explained the caretaking arrangement, that everyone, including the orchid, might be glad if it had a permanent home.
"Still no," she said.
My good deed undone, I needed an exit line.
"Well," I said, "be careful what you ask for, I guess."
"Isn't that the truth," she said.
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