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Belarus takes on Iowa journalism

August 29, 2012

Through World Learning’s Community Connections Program, IRIS welcomed 10 Belarusian journalists to a 3-week stay in Iowa.

Throughout their stay, the professionals visited 5 different cities in Iowa and Chicago. Their mission was to get a comprehensive understanding of journalism in the United States, so they could take their new knowledge and a deeper understanding of their profession with them as they return to Belarus.

They toured several news stations and newspapers including KCRG-TV9, Iowa Public Television, the Iowa Newspaper Association, the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Chicago Tribune.

The journalists were able to visit Iowa State University’s Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication as well as Drake and the University of Iowa’s Journalism & Mass Communication schools on 3 university tours.

Aliaksei visiting Governor Branstad in Des Moines.

Visiting during an election year, the journalist were fortunate enough to visit both the Iowa Republican and Democratic Party Headquarters, as well as Christie Vilsack’s Congressional Campaign office in Ames and Barack Obama’s Presidential Campaign Headquarters in Chicago.

Not only did the Belarusians get a professional view of America, but also connected on a personal level by staying with host families. By living with host families, they developed an entirely new outlook on America in comparison to what they had seen though media. The journalists got to know the families they lived with, as well as met people through various cultural activities such as touring the Iowa State Capitol, visiting the Meskwaki Indian Settlement, attending a Counting Crows concert, spending an afternoon at a waterpark, watching RAGBRAI bikers roll through town and many more.

Victor visiting a news station in Iowa

The Belarusian visitors were able to experience Iowa through professional, academic and cultural activities. According to World Learning, the Community Connections Program aims to advance “U.S. Foreign policy goals such as development, capacity building and public diplomacy by assisting participants in acquiring knowledge, skills, professional contacts, friendships and a deeper understanding of American society.”

IRIS tailored the trip to meet the journalism experts’ specific social, economic and civic needs in Belarusian society. We are happy to be a host organization for a program such as this, which helps increase international understanding while we promote our mission by connecting Iowa to communities worldwide.

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