Back in October, I opened my email to find an interesting invitation for me to apply for a trip to India as part of a special International Reporting Project bloggers' trip focusing on child survival and related issues of health and development.
"The trip will focus on issues of child survival in India. Among the topics we will examine are the development of vaccines, child malnutrition, tuberculosis, polio, HIV/AIDS, maternal health, access to clean water and hygiene, privatization of health care and its affect on child survival, and the impact of agricultural and rural development on child survival. The program will include meetings and site visits in Delhi and Mumbai, with a visit to a rural area. Participants would be asked to be as active as possible in blogging or reporting in any format about the trip. We would encourage blogging during the trip, and afterwards. Multimedia content is encouraged."
And I thought, "How could I turn down the opportunity to have an all expenses paid trip to India and have the opportunity to share this experience with everyone in my online audience?"
I'm not a journalist at all. I consider myself an educator and an "accidental" new media and social media expert. I expect then it is my presence online that captured the attention of the International Reporting Project that sees the face of reporting and journalism changing, and recognizes that people like me, ones who are enthusiastic about sharing their favored topics with the world, have a valid voice and a role to play in disseminating information.
I pitched the angle that I would like to examine India's children's health issues from the standpoint of how science and engineering are working on these challenges. I plan to meet and interview scientists and engineers to hear their stories and understand what motivates them to tackle these issues. I hope my time there will give a glimpse of the great need for science and engineering to step in and help ameliorate these serious health issues and perhaps even motivate some young people to consider a STEM career as a way of applying their talent to solve healthcare challenges. In addition, as a mother of four children, and the child advocate I am in general, I expect my heart to be touched by the struggles these children face daily.
I have been accepted to go on this trip and will be sharing with all of you with as much frequency as possible what I learn about children's health issues and how science and engineering are making great strides in these areas. (Speaking of which, yesterday was the two year anniversary of India being polio-free!)
Here is the official press release:
"The International Reporting Project (IRP) has selected ten innovative journalists and new media experts from around the world to participate in a ten-day trip to India on February 17-27, 2013.
The new media journalists will meet with a wide range of Indians and explore issues of child survival in India. Among the topics we will examine are the development of vaccines, child malnutrition, tuberculosis, polio, HIV/AIDS, maternal health, access to clean water and hygiene, privatization of health care and its affect on child survival, and the impact of agricultural and rural development on child survival.
"This trip represents IRP’s renewed focus on using innovative tools to report on critical, under-covered international issues," said John Schidlovsky, director of the Washington-based IRP.
The new media journalists, their affiliation and their countries of origin are:
• Hagit Bachrach, CFR.org – Israel
• Joy Doreen Biira, KTN Kenya – Uganda
• Jose Miguel Calatayud, freelance – Spain
• Jennifer Uloma Igwe, Nigeria TV Authority – Nigeria
• Mark Kaigwa, Afrinnovator.com – Kenya
• Leon Kaye, freelance – United States
• Joanne Manaster, freelance – United States
• Lindsey Mastis, Feature Story News – United States
• Tando Ntunja, freelance – South Africa
• Roshanak Taghavi, freelance – United States
Follow them on our Twitter list to receive updates during the trip."
I'd like to thank the IRP for somehow finding me on their radar and inviting me for this exciting project.
I also extend thanks to the School of Integrative Biology at UIUC for their incredible support of the outreach I do for science.
GoPro cameras are outfitting me with a new Hero3 to help me document this trip. Thank you, GoPro!
Photo: "We - the solution" on Flickr