“I look for a great communicator who can tell some of the most important stories in the world. Also, someone who won’t complain about staying in a $2-a-night room with rats and roaches,” New York Times columnist Nick Kristof summarized by email what he looks for in his annual “Win-a-Trip” contest.
Each year, Kristof of the New York Times holds a “Win-a-Trip” contest to find a student journalist to travel with him on a reporting trip. For 2017, he selected Aneri Pattani to accompany him to Liberia.
Pattani, 22, described her experience as a “one of the best” she’s had.
“Because I had the privilege of traveling with Nick, interviewing people and writing about my experiences for a global community of readers, I was able to chip away at my own ignorance and hopefully spread new knowledge to a few others, too.”
“Aneri was fabulous!” Kristof said.
“She’s a natural journalist who wrote compellingly about leprosy, African journalism and so much more–and her work is blessed with empathy and intelligence, even though she’s pecking away at full speed,” he explained.
Pattani, for her part, admits that the key lesson she learned in Liberia was “how little I know.”
She admitted feeling “guilty” when visiting a hospital that serves 75,000 people, knowing all the while that she had more medicine in her luggage–including some basic antibiotics and ibuprofen–than the entire hospital had.
She was inspired by Mae Azango, a Liberian journalist who wrote about female genital mutilation and was then forced into hiding.
That experience is exactly what Kristof hopes to accomplish with the “Win-a-Trip” program each year. “I want to help nurture the next generation of journalists who care about the issues that I consider important, and more broadly, I want to encourage young people to engage with issues of global health and poverty.”
For the sake of future applicants, I coaxed some advice out of Pattani. She noted that Kristof chooses all sorts of students, not just journalism students. Her primary advice, “Just be really authentic and explain why this is important to you in a personal way.”
As for this year’s winner, Kristof shared his final thoughts on Pattani’s performance: “She didn’t protest a room with rats!”
Aneri Pattani is a recent graduate of Northeastern University, where she studied journalism and Spanish. She spent part of the summer traveling with Nicholas Kristof to Liberia as the winner of his annual international reporting trip contest. After that, she spent 10 weeks working as a James Reston reporting fellow on the health/science desk of The New York Times. Her work has previously appeared in The Boston Globe, The Texas Tribune, CNBC and The Hartford Courant. When she’s not working, she enjoys learning new dance forms and cooking new types of food.
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Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!