Monday, January 31, 2011

Counting Down To Chinese New Year

A decorated home doorway         Photo by Evangeline Han

By Evangeline Han
Junior Reporter
Youth Journalism International
MELAKA, Malaysia – It is less than four days to Chinese New Year and the hive of activity around town is on the rise.
People are visiting the shops to do last minute shopping for things such as New Year’s goodies and new clothes to get ready for the holiday.
Chinese New Year falls on February 3 this year, and many families will gather on February 2 for a reunion dinner.
The country will be officially on holiday for two days, but most people will continue to celebrate for at least two more weeks.
Streets are decorated in gold and red – considered a lucky color in the Chinese culture – and some, though not all, people decorate their homes, too.
The shopping malls in town are playing Chinese New Year music. In fact, some started playing it right after they stopped playing Christmas music.
Photo by Evangeline Han
In a bid to attract more customers, staff from the Jusco Melaka shopping center held walkabouts in the mall to distribute free mandarin oranges to customers of all races.
For Chinese New Year, married couples – parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles – traditionally give little red envelopes or packets filled with money to unmarried people.
A few shopping malls are also giving out free red packets to customers who spend a certain amount of money.
The tradition is to give out new money, so people head to the bank to exchange old bills for new ones.
This year, some banks are out of new paper currency, and are giving people recycled bills instead.
During every Chinese New Year, people take advantage of poor law enforcement to buy firecrackers, which are illegal without a permit.
This year is no different and some have already begun setting the firecrackers off every night.
A number of Chinese shop vendors have already shut down operations in anticipation of the holiday, but some will remain open until Tuesday.
Most of these shops will remain closed until after the first seven days of the New Year.
All these activities and changes are setting the mood for Chinese New Year, and even more preparations for this big festival season are sure to be revved up over the next few days.

Path To Peace Is Education, Author Says

By Mariah Pulver
Youth Journalism International
FORT WORTH, Texas, U.S.A. – Education is the way to promote peace, Greg Mortenson, co- author of Three Cups of Tea, told an audience at Texas Christian University last week.
Image courtesy Central Asia Institute
Students, faculty and locals filled the 1,200 seat auditorium to see Mortenson.
The Frost Foundation, part of TCU’s Center for International Studies, brought Mortenson to lecture. All first-year students had to read Three Cups of Tea over the summer, so bringing Mortenson to speak helped bring together the whole message.
The program began with a local children’s choir performing a song about all the work that Mortenson has done to help children in the Middle East. He shook the hands of each child and thanked them all for singing.
Mortenson spoke for more than an hour, discussing everything from the beginning of his work to what everyone can do to help.
He told about how he grew up in Africa with his parents, who were working to build hospitals. And although he never thought that he would end up doing work similar to that, he did.
Mortenson almost failed out of college his first semester, but was encouraged to keep trying and eventually he became a nurse.
But when his sister Christa died, he made a vow to climb K2 in Pakistan – one of the world’s tallest peaks – and place her necklace at the very top.
He never made it, though, and on the way down, got lost and ended up in a village named Korphe, where villagers helped him.
In Korphe, Mortenson made a promise that changed his life.
Haji Ali, a village chief in Korphe, shared three cups of tea with Mortenson, signifying with each cup that they moved past being strangers and friends, in order to become family. Mortenson promised to build a school for the village, since all of the children were taught outside, in the dirt.
To build the school, he had to work and attempt to raise money, which was a difficult task.
Today, Mortenson’s foundation , the Central Asia Institute, builds many schools, without Mortenson having to work all on his own to raise the money.
Mortenson spoke about where they built schools, how he dealt with the Taliban, and how the village elders are the ones who decide everything in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
One story he told was about a young boy, Gul Marjan, in Lander. The boy walked to the construction site for the school every day to see where he would be able to go to learn.
But one day, the boy stepped on one of the many landmines that covered the area due to war. It ended up being fatal and the boy’s death was a blow to the village. Mortenson said this boy died looking forward to a chance to be educated.
Mortenson stressed education as a way to promote peace everywhere. If people are educated, he said, then terrorism and war will decrease.
Instead of spending on the military, that money could be spent on schools, he said.
Through the efforts of Mortenson and the Central Asia Institute, many more children have had the benefit of an education.
In order to do this, Mortenson had to make deals with the elders in each village, who are usually suspicious of Americans. But by being respectful and listening, Mortenson did what others thought impossible.
He showed that anyone can make a difference, whether it is a nation, a town, or one person.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Egyptian Protesters Stand Firm

By Jessica Elsayed
Senior Reporter
Youth Journalism International
ALEXANDRIA, Egypt – As citizen protests against President Hosni Mubarak continued today, military planes and helicopters flew very close to the ground near protesters in Cairo and in Alexandria.
This move was perplexing. We had been sure of the Egyptian Army, that it wouldn’t turn on the people, but things are a little more confusing now.
The tactic of flying low seems to be to scare people, but the protesters are standing their ground.
Every time the planes passed by, the cheers of the crowd grew louder.
People didn’t move a centimeter. They would stand in place, so brave, not even thinking about moving.
My parents won’t let me join the protests. It really hurts to know the revolution is happening and it’s only a half an hour away. What am I going to tell my grandchildren? That I watched it on television?
At least I can write. I will make my contribution by telling Egypt’s story and being a voice for my generation.
It’s getting harder to get information. No one here has Al Jazeera on television anymore.
Reporters for Al Jazeera had their licenses taken away and now those who have relied on this network are left with state-sanctioned television and what we can get by satellite.

U.S. State Department Map of Egypt

The Egyptian television network is playing national songs and telling viewers that the other channels are dramatizing the situation.
It’s absurd and hilarious.
My neighborhood, which is quieter than most and away from downtown Alexandria, had another looter. I’ve talked with people in other, more crowded areas of town where looting is more prevalent. They said they’ve seen 30 or 40 looters at once, zooming through the streets on their motorcycles.
People are not standing for it, though. The men are still standing guard outside my building and they’re ready if the motorcycles come here. This morning, they came in at 8 a.m. and for tonight, they’re trying to arrange shifts so some can get rest.
Some people have tied looters to light poles in the street and others held them captive inside stores. Lots of people were caught last night so there is less looting now.
People feel safe, but they don’t feel security. It’s not so easy to sleep.
We still don’t have access to the internet.
As far as I’m concerned, Mubarak has taken the nation back to the Middle Ages.
I’m sure he is terrified, though, with 50,000 or more people in El Tahrir Square, the center of the revolution in Cairo.
There are curfews, but no one is listening to them. It might be hard to go out after curfew, but those who are already out at the protests aren’t coming back in.
The police have disappeared, but people are worried that they’ll be back. If they do return, it means more death, because they’ve been really violent.
This account is based on a telephone conversation today with Jessica Elsayed from her home in Alexandria. Because she has no internet access in recent days, she has been unable to send articles or review these posts before they are published. This account may change after she has had a chance to review it.

Egyptians Pin Hopes On ElBaradei

Jessica Elsayed
By Jessica Elsayed
Senior Reporter
Youth Journalism International
ALEXANDRIA, Egypt – Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Prize-winning foe of the government here, is the man of the moment right now.
A lot of Egyptians hope he will lead a new government soon when protests force Hosni Mubarak to give up the reins of power.
ElBaradei is very moderate about everything, so moderate that people on both sides have wondered if he is too much a man of the middle.
But now they are all coming together behind him. Everyone is with him.
He is very humble and he has no interest in power. But he said he would serve if the people want him.
He made a strong appearance today.
ElBaradei has also said plainly: Mubarak must go.
We worry that he could be killed in Cairo.
Even the Muslim Brotherhood backs him. It is a big group in Egypt, but does not have the support of the majority.
The Muslim Brotherhood is not the crazy, militant group people think it is. It’s just been painted as the enemy by Mubarak.
My friend’s grandpa is from the Muslim Brotherhood and he’s a sweetheart.
Everyone agrees that the whole regime must be transformed.
We are watching and waiting for the end.
The feeling that goes on all day is just anticipation, anticipation, anticipation.
This story is based on a telephone conversation today with Jessica Elsayed in Alexandria, Egypt. It reflects what she said, but she could not review it before publication because the government has cut off internet service in Alexandria. This story may be revised when she has the opportunity to see it. Also see her Jan. 25 and Jan. 29 pieces on the first days of the protest.

Elsayed On U.S. Radio Today

Youth Journalism International Senior Reporter Jessica Elsayed will be featured on KPFK in California in a little while. Elsayed is reporting on the Egyptian revolution for YJI.
Elsayed, 17, was interviewed by Ian Masters for his "Background Briefing" show that airs at 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time or at 11 a.m. West Coast time.
You can listen to her live by clicking here.
The station airs in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Diego and beyond.
With luck, an archived version of the show will be available later at this link.

Update: Listen to the Jan. 30, 2011 Background Briefing show at this link to hear Jessica talk about the situation in Egypt. She's on for the first half hour.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Inside The Egyptian Revolution

Here is a firsthand account of the Egyptian revolution from Youth Journalism International senior reporter Jessica Elsayed, a 17-year-old student in Alexandria, Egypt:
By Jessica Elsayed
Senior Reporter
Youth Journalism International
ALEXANDRIA, Egypt – It’s scary and exciting at the same time to be here.
I can hear booms outside from tear gas canisters exploding.
The police station next door caught fire last night.
As part of a new people’s militia, men from my building are guarding us with wooden sticks or knives. One neighbor has two swords.
The butcher down the street sharpened knives and handed them out, not out of violence but for protection.
Looters are not welcome in my neighborhood. Elsewhere in the city, they’ve pillaged a big mall, driven off with new BMWs and attacked many jewelry stores by shattering windows and grabbing all they can.
It’s pretty intense.
Those who are doing the looting and setting the fires are from the police, something they’re not saying on television but everyone knows it. It’s really distressing.
The government blames protesters but everyone knows who’s really doing it.
I’m not scared because I trust the men in my building and I trust my neighbors. It’s very brave of them to stand guard.
No one sleeps as we watch the televised images of the revolution going on throughout Egypt, including my hometown.
People say that 30 protesters died today in Alexandria alone. There may have been more. Thankfully, my family and friends are safe.
The authorities are not letting people take the bodies from the morgue because they don’t want the corpses of martyrs carried down the streets, further inflaming a country that is seething with anger and filled with hope.
Protesters ignore the curfews, but stores and pharmacies are closed. My father went out to look for food earlier and medicine for my sister, but generally if people don’t have some at home, they won’t find it.
The internet is off. Phones are iffy. They’re even shutting off the water soon.
Al Jazeera, which we can see on satellite television, pretty much shows what’s going on. We can also watch the world news channels from the BBC, CNN and Al Arabiya.
Tonight could be crucial for Egypt’s growing revolution. We are all hoping something happens tonight for the better.
Tomorrow is such a mystery.
Since the protests began Tuesday, they have swollen in size and in the rage demonstrated against a government that has failed the people. It gets worse each day.
The country’s president, Hosni Mubarak, has to go.
Crowds everywhere chant, “You must go! You have no dignity!”
It is infuriating for Egyptians that Mubarak, in power for 30 years, won’t leave. The message is clear: we just want him to leave.
His speech to the country last night was much more provocative than comforting.
With Mubarak in power, people in Egypt cannot breathe. They have no rights whatsoever unless they’re one of the rich elites with ties to the government.
For ordinary Egyptians, there is nothing from this regime, and anyone under 30 has never known anything but Mubarak.
Egyptians have so much pride, but for decades he has hurt them. It didn’t have to get this bad.
The Egyptian people are counting on the Army.
We need the Army on our side. Politically, the Army is the source of everything.
People don’t trust the police – who are not respectful – but they have faith in the military units that have fanned out through the cities. There are tanks downtown here. Many families are bringing food to the soldiers.
A soldier serving in the Army could be my brother or my friend. We respect these men, and don’t believe they would hurt us.
Egyptians are very upset with U.S President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for failing to back them. The Americans must choose between the Egyptian people and the government.
They are trying to hold the stick in the middle, but they need to pick one side or the other.
Egyptians want a change in the system. They want a new president and new institutions that won’t be used to oppress our nation.
The country may be disorganized, but in these times, the people are united. In the end, change is going to come from the people.
After years of being afraid to speak out, people are starting to feel comfortable in their own skin. Everyone feels a little more brave today.
It is remarkable that this revolution was planned on Facebook. From the day after the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia drove out a dictator, organizers on Facebook set a day of protest in Egypt for Jan. 25.
No one really believed it would happen, but young people, most of them not connected to any party, agreed to try. They clicked “will attend” on a Facebook event page, and they did.
The protesters are peaceful people.
The timing is perfect. Exams are over and schools and colleges are closed now for a mid-year vacation, which is one reason the crowds got so big on Friday.
Nobody cares that the ruling party headquarters went up in flames yesterday. Its furnishings were stolen from the people.
Other buildings that burned also don’t matter.
All of this can be fixed. Burned buildings can be fixed.
Being oppressed cannot be fixed except through revolt. Mubarak left us no other choice.
We’re optimistic. Everyone’s optimistic. We’re going to be OK.
It’s a different country than it was just five days ago.
The story above is story is based on a half hour telephone conversation with Jessica Elsayed in Alexandria, Egypt the evening of January 25. It reflects what she said, but she could not review it before publication because the government has cut off internet service in Alexandria. This story may be revised when she has the opportunity to see it.
Update on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2011: We spoke again today with Jessica Elsayed and read her the above text since she still does not have internet access. She approved it.

More reporting from Jessica Elsayed:
News Analysis: Tens Of Thousands Of Egyptians Protest For Human Rights, her Jan. 25 piece on the first day's protest.
Egyptians Pin Hopes On ElBaradei:
Egyptian Protestors Stand Firm: here
Finally, listen to Jessica's radio interview and more from Egypt with Pacifica Radio's Ian Masters, host of "Background Briefing" at

Friday, January 28, 2011

Relief Over Mandela's Improving Health

By Nicole Megan Gounder
Youth Journalism International
DURBAN, South Africa – Over the past week, there have been rumours spreading around the nation regarding the health of former President Nelson Mandela, an international cultural icon.
This was followed by tweets and Facebook status updates claiming that he’d died.
But to the relief of the nation, the rumors proved false.
All was revealed today in live press coverage on SABC news when the entire nation tuned in at exactly 12:30 p.m. to get the insight regarding Madiba’s situation.
First to speak was Acting President Kgalema Motlanthe who explained that Mandela underwent specialized medical tests as a normal part of his medical regimen. Mandela recently developed an acute respiratory infection for which he
received treatment at the Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg.
Motlanthe said Mandela “is receiving the best treatment from the best health professionals in this country.”
It was made known that Mandela had many checkups in the past. He has had a number of ailments in the past, including tuberculosis while imprisoned on Robben Island during Apartheid.
It was also made known that the beloved former president has been on medication and is responding well to the current treatment.
Grandson Nkosi Mandla Mandela revealed that there has been a lot of anxiety in the family and that they have supported him over the years.
There is joy among South Africans and the Mandela family, as he has been discharged from hospital today to return to his home where he will continue to receive the proper medical care required.
Nelson Mandela has touched the lives of many people in South Africa and around the world.
We can only hope and pray that he has a speedy recovery. Our thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Brisbane's Moment

Photo by Mei Goh

By Nancy Hsu
Youth Journalism International
BRISBANE, Queensland, Australia – We had a moment there, Brisbane.
To you, the checkout clerk at Woolworths who frantically scanned customers’ products so that people could quickly get home safe to their families – we had a moment.
To you, families who gathered together only to sit in silence and awe at televised updates of how the floods were tearing up their own city – we had a moment.
To you, people who were on the last bus running before public transport screeched to an alarming halt – we had a moment.
To you, emergency workers who worked around the clock to save the lives of affected people, who didn’t get to go home that night to families and hot food – we had a moment.
To you, the Bosnian lady whose house we cleaned up, who insisted we take her cakes and drinks for our work, who called us family when all we’d done was help her pick out her plants that had died with the flood waters – we had a moment.
To you, the 17-year-old neighbor who already didn’t have much, but offered to provide storage space for an old lady’s furniture – we had a moment.
To you, the families of those killed by the floods, the families with whom the whole of Brisbane and Queensland cried with for our loss – we had a moment.
To you, Jordan Rice, the 13-year-old kid who sacrificed his own life so that his brother could be saved, the boy we will forever think of in times when we need to remember what true courage is – we had a moment.
To you, Warren McErlean, the guy who did a doubletake when he saw the Rice family and risked his life to try to save them – we had a moment.
In those few nail-biting days of anticipation before the onset of the floods, we locked eyes with a complete stranger and we had a moment.
Nothing had to be said. We understood the pain and loss the disaster was causing all Brisbanites.
For a moment, there we were, all united by a common thread. No matter how traumatic, we were in it together, and we had a moment.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

News Analysis: Tens Of Thousands Of Egyptians Protest For Human Rights

By Jessica Elsayed
Youth Journalism International
ALEXANDRIA, Egypt – Following in the footsteps of Tunisia’s recent revolution, Egypt today was in a complete state of protest.
More than 20,000 people in Alexandria and over 50,000 in Cairo and thousands others in several governorates across Egypt have left their fear behind and united to demand basic rights.
Egyptians are ranting against the state of poverty, hunger, unemployment, inflation, corruption and injustice.
Some of the main demands include denouncing President Hosni Mubarak – a man many people here call a dictator – who has occupied his office for the past 30 years.
Protestors are demanding fair elections and the simple right to be protected by the government instead of oppressed by it.
The people are also demanding a raise in the minimum wage up to 1,200 Egyptian Pounds a month, which is about $205 in U.S. dollars.
The current center for protests is in Cairo’s famous El Tahrir Square downtown, where people are pledging to sleep on the streets until their demands are answered.
Egyptian authorities have managed to shut down cell phone reception in that area in addition to blocking Twitter almost entirely from Egypt.
Most news updates are found on Facebook on pages such as Rassd News Network and cable channels such Al Jazeera, despite police beating Al Jazeera reporters and destroying their equipment.
Today is Police Day, a holiday for Egyptian schools and workplaces. Organizers have been eyeing this date to begin protests since Tunisia’s recent Jasmine Revolution.
Planned on Facebook, where over 90,000 people vowed to attend the anti-government rallies, many did not believe that an event this big would actually take place.
But to everyone’s surprise, the protest marches finally managed to give voice to public opinion – and many joined who do not even know what Facebook is.
According to the RNN network, a few people have died and thousands have been arrested.
Many government officials insist that even tens of thousands protesting out of a population of 80 million cannot be considered a revolution.
But many Egyptians believe otherwise.
For the first time since the 1970s, thousands of men and women from all ages and from all classes of society have stood up for their basic rights of liberty and prosperity.
The streets are chanting what Egypt’s hearts have been secretly chanting for years: “Down with Mubarak, down with Mubarak!”
People are fed up and finally speaking loud and clear. They will no longer live under this regime, no longer be live in poverty and oppression.
People have marched down the streets of Egypt tearing down posters of Mubarak and, even more upsetting to the regime, the posters of his son, Jamal Mubarak, considered the likely successor to his father.
Today has been a day full of historical events in Lebanon, Tunisia and Palestine.
But for Egypt, today is only just the beginning.

Monday, January 24, 2011

It's Contest Time Again At YJI

We've been busy here at Youth Journalism International, preparing for our annual Excellence in Journalism contest.

We're almost ready to announce the 2011 contest rules, deadlines and other specifics, so stay tuned for more information.

And all you young journalists out there, look back at your work over the past year and start thinking about what you'd like to enter.

This is the only contest of its kind. It's open to all young journalists, anywhere in the world, though the work must have been published in English. Youth up to age 19 who are not working professionally are eligible to enter.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Surrounded By Floodwaters In Bundaberg

By Tasman Anderson
Junior Reporter
Youth Journalism International
BRISBANE, Queensland, Australia – What started out as a few rainy days here and there has turned Australia upside down as torrents of water tore through communities, killing dozens of people.
An ironic twist of fate landed me right in the middle of the carnage.
On Friday, Jan. 7, both my parents and I made the trip to Bundaberg to attend the funeral of my late aunt. I hadn’t been close to her, but there was still a thick air of sadness in the car as we drove in silence.
It had been showering for several days and the roads were now almost invisible. It was hard to see anything through the pelting rain, but I was not worried.
This was Queensland, and we were used to strange weather changes. Not to mention my father is an incredible driver. I always felt safe with him, no matter what the driving conditions were.
It was late in the afternoon by the time we arrived at my uncle’s house. He lived just out from the town, so he was close enough to enjoy what Bundaberg had to offer, but was still far away enough away for some peace and quiet.
As we drove through the town, I noticed light flooding. It wasn’t new for Australia to experience some form of flooding, so I put it in the back of my head as I focused on the funeral that would take place on Sunday.
But in a cruel twist of fate, we would not be attending my aunt’s funeral but instead would be stuck inside the house, waiting for the roads to clear so we just could get back to our safe home.
For the next week, I was trapped within my uncle’s home alongside my parents and my cousins. I kept up to date on the floods through my phone and couldn’t believe what was unfolding right outside my door.
Murky brown water had risen and enveloped thousands of houses. Local people, people I knew and loved, had lost everything, and hope was hard to come by.
Time seemed to have slowed down so that every second felt like an hour. We had nothing to do by wait it out and hope that we were not the next to lose our home – or worse, our lives.
As the news spread that more than 70 people were missing, my heart broke. I was never a firm believer in God, but I couldn’t help but ask him – How could he let such a thing happen? How could he sweep entire families away in such a horrific flood? And how could he possibly justify killing children as young as four?
This is not what Australia was about. Australia brought hope and good old outback humor. It was not a place of death and tragedy.
After several nights of broken sleep, constantly afraid that I would be woken by the sound of gushing water coming through the front door, I awoke to a sunny day.
At first I thought it may have been a dream – a scary and prolonged dream, but a dream at that. It wasn’t until I looked out the window and saw a man on a jet ski driving through what would have been the front yard did I realize that it was indeed a reality, my reality.
I was angry at everyone for something they could not control. I wanted justice for the missing people. I wanted justice for the families who were swept away. I wanted justice for the people who had lost everything.
Mostly, I wanted justice for my family who not only had to deal with the death of a beloved family member, but also the fact that they may just lose every possession they owned.
The following Monday brought both sadness and elation. We learned that many of the missing people were being located, but many of them were dead. They’d been caught amongst the debris underneath the water.
I began to cry as I heard the news that mothers had lost their children and that families were to be broken forever as they learned that their father or mother was not going to come back.
In fact, there was really no hope in finding anyone alive anymore. It was now a body recovery mission as the number of missing people decreased and the number of deceased people rose.
However on a positive note, we were able to travel home, so on January 14, just a week after arriving at Bundaberg, we made our way home. It was too late to bury our aunt and we left with a heavy heart.
After the six-hour drive I was finally in my own home. It hadn’t been affected by the flood, so everything was just how I left it.
I had never been so grateful in my life. Every possession – including my Y2K bug stuffed toy that my sister got me when I was 10 – was still safely tucked in between my pillows.
I was lucky, but so many others weren’t.  To this day I do not know why I was able to make it out with everything, but so many others did not.
As I learned the vastness of the damage, I set myself on a mission. I decided to help the flood victims with everything and anything I had.
I began collecting books, magazines, school supplies and clothing that could be donated. I was not going to let fellow Australians lose hope in the Australian spirit.
We are tough, stoic people. We stand together when the earth around us is crumbling.
We lend a hand when someone needs it the most. We don’t walk away and we certainly don’t abandon each other.
We are one nation and together we can overcome anything. It is this way of life that has caused so many positive things in the wake of the floods.
Other states have banded together to help raise money. Local bakers, farmers and builders have come together to provide food and equipment to aid the volunteers in their cleaning efforts.
Thousands and thousands of people have flocked to Bundaberg and Brisbane equipped with gumboots and brooms, ready to clean every single trace of havoc the flood wreaked.
Together we can conquer everything, but we are not ungrateful to the support we have received from those outside of Australia.
The floods have made news on American television and Oprah herself asked people to join together and donate to the flood relief.
So far we have raised over $120 million, but the cleaning bill is at $3 billion.
Every single dollar goes towards the rebuilding of homes and the supply of fresh clothing and food – something everyone should have.
So why not help a country as beautiful of Australia? Donations are being taken at the Australian Flood Relief Appeal website at
We may have each other but we still need a helping hand.
Every dollar counts.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Fast showers in China

As the leaders of the United States and China dine at the White House, let's go back to a 2008 story for YJI by Zhu Qin Zhe in China, writing about trying to take a shower during her brief stint in the military. Check it out:
The fastest shower I ever took
By Zhu Qin Zhe
Click Here
Zhu Qin Zhe, reporting for duty.
Youth Journalism International
Fujian Province, CHINA – Assembled and standing next to each other, we could see the large drops of sweat trickling down along our temples, and smell the pungent odor coming from our exhausted bodies.
It was military camp, and we needed a shower.
We had towels, bottles of shampoo as well an exquisite comb clutched to our chests while anxiously waiting for our turn under the water.
The rules in the military camp dictated that students instantly obey every order sent by the leaders.
There were strict commands over dining in the canteens – how we walked, ran or talked.
Even the activities during the time we were spared to ourselves were highly limited – no singing, no dancing, no loud conversations on silly topics.
But the most unbearable challenge was that in the entire 20 days, we were only allowed showers two to three times.
So just imagine how excited we were when the time for a shower finally came – and how surprised we were when the leader declared that only 40 nozzles were available.
That meant that five or six girls had to share one nozzle together.
Then we suddenly got pale at another announcement – no more than 10 minutes were given for the shower, since the water was supposed to run out of supply after a certain time. Click here for the rest of the story.

School in the snow? Yeah, sometimes

This is one of the many wonderful cartoons that Joe Keo drew for Youth Journalism International. You can see the rest of his work here.

Kampala Student Represents YJI In Uganda's National Youth Forum

Bwette Daniel

Here's Bwette Daniel, a student of Youth Journalism International living in Kampala, Uganda.

He's at the Uganda National Youth Forum hearing some motivational speakers this week.

Bwette was a finalist  last year in the social entrepreneur category of Uganda's Young Achievers Award. The photo is from that awards ceremony last month.

We're proud that he's representing YJI at the National Youth Forum this week, spreading the word about the future of journalism.

Feeling The Earth Tremble In Karachi

By Waleed Tariq
Junior Reporter
Youth Journalism International
KARACHI, Pakistan – An intense earthquake shook parts of Pakistan early Wednesday.
The cities of Karachi, Lahore and Quetta and parts of the interior province of Sindh were jolted by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake at 1:23 a.m.

However, the epicenter of the quake proved to be in the less populated, mountainous district of Kharan in the province of Baluchistan.
When the quake struck, I was watching television with my father and I felt the strong tremors. My sofa was just shaking. I was scared, but did not panic.

According to news reports here, buildings in Karachi show signs of cracks.

There’s been no initial word of fatalities reported, but local television news showed panicked people residing in at least 70 houses surrounding a jeopardized building come out of their homes, confused as to what to do.

Following the immense tremors, the city government in Karachi put its entire staff on alert along with their machinery, to respond if needed.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Lending A Hand In Queensland

Photo by Justin Chan

By Nancy Hsu
Youth Journalism International
BRISBANE, Queensland, Australia – As the Queensland floods swept through the city of Brisbane and its suburbs, 17-year-old Liam Harfield helped people in his neighborhood whose houses had been affected.
“We helped this lady out. All her furniture’s in our garage,” said Harfield, who worked with a friend. “We came back heaps of times to check everything out.”
Harfield, who lives in nearby Oxley, said he’d heard the flood warnings around midday on Tuesday, January 11.
He and his roommates evacuated their residence at the next evening and relocated to a friend’s house in Sinnamon Park.
Harfield went back to Oxley that same night, and again at 6 the next morning, just two hours after the floods peaked. He said “heaps of houses” still had high water levels.
So Harfield helped his neighbors clean up their homes.
“We started cleaning out today,” he said in an interview January 14, the day he pitched in at Margaret and Chris Callaghan’s place. “This is the second house I helped today.”

Slideshow photos by Nancy Hsu

Legacy of a departing Lieberman

Youth Journalism International has a kindly view of U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, the former Democratic vice presidential candidate who is apparently not going to run for reelection as a senator from Connecticut. On at least a couple of occasions, Lieberman has treated YJI reporters with patience and decency -- even on one of the worst days of his life, shortly after learning from his pollsters in 2006 that he would lose the Democratic primary.
At least three YJI reporters -- Mike Nguyen in 2003 and both Wesley Saxena and Kiernan Majerus-Collins in 2006 -- have written stories after talking with Lieberman. Saxena and Majerus-Collins even rode on the senator's campaign bus with him.
Here are their stories:

Lieberman raps school violence
By Mike Nguyen
U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman has a lot of ideas to keep troubled kids from "exploding" into the sort of violent rage that has led to a number of school shootings in recent years.
In an interview with Youth Journalism International, the former Democratic vice presidential candidate said many steps could be taken to help prevent violence in schools.
"There's not a single solution" to school violence, the Connecticut Democrat said recently.
He said he's had "a long-term concern regarding the violence in the entertainment culture" and its effect on young people.
Lieberman said he wants to clarify ratings labels on things such as video games, music, movies, and television shows so that youngsters and parents will know what they're buying.
With some mixed-up young people, Lieberman said, media mayhem "sometimes gives them the idea of solving things with violence."
Among his many concerns about the effects of violence on teens, he said, is rap music.
"I can't claim expertise on rap music, but some of it is over the edge in terms of bigotry and violence to women," he said.  Click here to read the whole story.

August 5, 2006
Lieberman fights anti-war surge in Connecticut
By Wesley Saxena
Six years ago, U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut Democrat, almost became vice president.

Click Here 
Tattoo photo: Kiernan Majerus-Collins
U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, on his campaign bus.

Now, facing a tough August 8 primary against anti-war newcomer Ned Lamont, Lieberman’s fighting just to hold on to his place in the Senate.
Many Democrats who oppose the war in Iraq and hope to bring the troops home are turning away from Lieberman, who supports the war, in favor of his multi-millionaire challenger.
Lamont pumped lots of his own money into his campaign to try to turn the primary into a referendum on President George W. Bush.
“I’m trying to tell people I’m not George Bush,” said Lieberman.
The primary has attracted worldwide attention because polls show that a majority of Connecticut Democrats are so opposed to the war that they may be ready to reject one of their party’s best known leaders because he’s endorsed the war. Click here for the whole story.
August 7, 2006
-- Reporter's notebook --
On board Joe Lieberman's campaign cruiser
By Wesley Saxena
Like flies buzzing around a picnic, journalists covering a political campaign stick close to the juicy stuff.
In Connecticut’s hot race for U.S. Senate, there’s plenty for reporters to chew on.
Sen. Joe Lieberman is on the run from challenger Ned Lamont in a Democratic primary so intense that it’s drawing reporters from the Big Apple.
Click Here 
Kiernan Majerus-Collins/ The Tattoo
Reporter Jennifer Medina of The New York Times
The longtime senator is running the final stretch of his campaign on a big bus labeled “Joe’s Tomorrow Tour.”

On the bus, reporters and photographers ride with Lieberman, his wife Hadassah and some members of his staff from one campaign stop to the next.
Reporter Jennifer Medina of The New York Times, covering Lieberman for her paper, said she was riding the bus nearly every day.
Lieberman usually makes the same speech at every stop with different variations of it, Medina said.
“It’s always something specific for each stop,” said Medina.
Medina’s been to Lieberman’s “office” – two seats in the back of the bus facing each other with a table in the middle – several times for a private interview, she said.
Reporter Maggie Haberman, riding the bus for the New York Post, said she primarily covers New York politics, but recently began covering the Connecticut senate primary race.
Besides reporters on the bus, there are also some photographers, including Julie Stapen, who shoots for the New York Post’s Sunday edition.
Since Stapen was only on the bus one day, she was under a lot of pressure to get just the right picture.
“You want the perfect shot that symbolizes what’s going on,” said Stapen. Click here for the full story.