Global Eyewitness Puerto Rico team raises funds pre-trip

Global Eyewitness Puerto Rico team raises funds pre-trip

Wednesday, December 6, 2017 - 10:45am
Polline Angeyo Uganda photo
From the Global Eyewitness Uganda trip: Polline Angeyo lifts her wig to reveal scars from the 1995 LRA attack on her home village of Awach in northern Uganda. Photo by Gabriella Parsons

by Alli Inglebright

Students in the Global Eyewitness program are planning for their upcoming trip to Puerto Rico. Eight students will spend three weeks covering different stories across the island. Their story ideas include tales of hope in the midst of devastation, rebuilding efforts, and communities supporting each other.

The trip is part of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications’ photojournalism program where students normally travel to third world countries twice a year and cover different issues in the area. Students spend about two months researching story ideas and gathering contacts before they begin their travels. After their trip, the students spend three to four months editing their work before it’s showcased. The showcase includes a fundraiser that allows the students to send funds to the organizations they worked with.

The students traveling to Puerto Rico are approaching this trip differently by raising funds before they leave. For several students, including Gabi Parsons and Merika Andrade, this isn’t their first Global Eyewitness trip, which helped them approach things differently.

“When we got back from Uganda we were able to see the holes that were missing,” said Andrade, a member of the Global Eyewitness trip to Uganda. “That experience allowed us to improve our efforts for the next time. We saw how important it is to take funds or support with us. This trip is a little different because Puerto Rico is part of the U.S. and their crisis is happening right now.”

The team is also aware of the ethical issues surrounding journalists helping or supporting their subjects. They are aware of the vast and immediate need in Puerto Rico. The island has been without power since Hurricane Maria hit the island in late September, which is the longest and largest blackout in US history, said Parsons, a member of the Global Eyewitness trip to Uganda.

“We are going into this trip as journalists that are also humans,” Parsons said. “We just thought we could do more. We still have to remember to be objective and document the people and their communities.”

The team is still trying to figure out how they are going to use the funds. So far, they have raised $1,815 through Facebook Fundraisers.

“We may purchase supplies or we might donate it to a respected grassroots organization,” Parsons said. “Hopefully we are setting an example for future trips.”

Andrew Dickinson has seen the trip change over the years. He will be traveling with the students as an assistant to Bruce Thorson, CoJMC professor and organizer of the trip. Dickinson traveled on six Global Eyewitness trips as a student, and this will be his first trip as an assistant. He graduated from the CoJMC in 2016.

“Each student approaches the trip in their own way,” Dickinson said. “The program has changed over the years and continues to evolve each year, which we can see with the Puerto Rico trip and raising funds pre-trip.”

The culture of the program makes an impact on the students as journalists.

“Some of my longest friends have come from this class and trip,” Dickinson said. "The students form a strong bond and friendships are solidified. They work in very trying conditions and come together while being trained as journalists."

The team is set to leave Dec. 17 and will return Jan. 5.