Northwestern students report stories from New Orleans
Students from Northwestern University in Qatar reported on the challenges facing the American city of New Orleans this summer, five years after Hurricane Katrina struck the city.
The trip provided an opportunity for students to hone their reporting skills and to report on a complex story that changed a city its people.
“We were very interested in exploring the real issues people were facing after the hurricane,” said second-year journalism student Ola Diab, who reported on the reconstruction of the Lower 9th ward and how environmental housing is transforming the area. “I didn’t know how people would react to us. But it went so well. Everybody was so supportive,” Diab said.
Other students documented topics such as the rebirth of the music and arts community and the lasting impact of Qatar’s $100m donation to the city in the wake of the hurricane.
“Having come to New Orleans five years after Hurricane Katrina you would expect talks about the disaster to have settled down,” wrote second-year student Shannon Farhoud in a blog post. But that simply isn’t the case. “The destruction Katrina caused is still very visible today,” Farhoud wrote. “Abandoned homes are standing in the middle of a working, partial rebuilt neighborhood, which means everyday the people of the community … are reminded of what happen here.”
For the 12 students who participated, the trip provided an opportunity to build on the reporting experience they’d gained in Doha during reporting classes on Mirqab street.
“It has been great to see the excitement from the students,” said professor Christopher Booker, who worked with the students on reporting, shooting and editing video projects. “The Mirqab street reporting class really prepared them for their experience in the US, which just goes to show that our ‘learn by doing’ teaching method really pays off,” he said.
In fact, for many of the students, the trip to New Orleans went well beyond mere learning. “This trip for me was a first step into the real world of journalism,” said Nazneen Zahan, a second-year journalism student.
“We went to this whole new place, found our sources, contacted them, met them and produced a whole mini documentary. By the end of the trip we felt like real journalists, not just students,” Zahan said.
You can see student work at nuqneworleans.wordpress.com.