My Journalism Student is in Ukraine


“Everything is really eerie here.”

That’s how a flurry of back-and-forth Facebook messages started this morning with Daniela Fierro, a WTAMU journalism student who is currently studying abroad in Ukraine. She’s living in Kharkiv, which is in the eastern part of the country.

Until now, most of the unrest has been happening in Kiev, the capital, and in the western portions of the country. But Daniela reports her local metro station has been closed, and rumors are swirling about plain-clothed security forces roaming the streets.

As her professor, my first priority is her safety. We had already discussed registering with the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which sends Americans messages about any kind of breaking news or dangerous conditions. Our discussions today have focused on staying indoors and avoiding crowds. A lot of common sense will go a long way in this type of situation.

I am a journalism professor, though, so our discussions have also focused on the unusual circumstances in which Daniela finds herself. I’m encouraging her to pay attention to the news media reports she’s getting, record her impressions and feelings about what’s going on, and talk to her classmates about their views. I want her to stay safe, but she also has an opportunity to do some reporting of a kind that very few American student journalists get to do.

We’re expecting to get a blog post from her soon, and The Prairie will post a link to that when it’s ready.

By the way, Daniela also will be tweeting here and there about what she’s seeing, reading, and experiencing. You can follow her on Twitter at @daniefierro.

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