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Visit Correspondents of the World

One of the great strengths of International Studies Alumni is their ability find and foster connections, creating understanding between people all over the world. The online story-platform and community “Correspondents of the World”, is an interesting initiative by International Studies Alumni which embodies these qualities exactly. The platform aims to engage readers with themes like gender, migration, liberation, corona and the environment through the power of personal stories. You can get involved! We spoke to two founders of the Platform & International Studies Alumni, Joost Backer (25) and Mira Kinn (28), who were excited to tell us more.

Joost Backer

What is Correspondents of the World?
Correspondents of the World”, or CotW, is an online story-platform and community that aims to foster understanding between people from all over the world, addressing relevant and topical themes: gender, migration, liberation, corona and the environment. We feature stories from local correspondents on matters such as sexual education in the Chinese countryside, Corona in Niger, or the understanding of white privilege in the US, all through our correspondents’ personal lens.

We then discuss these stories, and the topics they talk about, in our monthly ‘Tea Talks’; online events where we gather around with people interested in engaging in a constructive conversation with each other (in fact, one such Tea Talk with the BA International Studies is coming up soon!).

The platform is now counting 47 correspondents, it is active in 34 countries and we are growing. Since this year, we are officially a foundation. We dream of expanding further, establishing funding in the future and supporting the amazing organisations and NGOs we come across when reading the stories of our correspondents.

Joost an Mira, how did your collaboration begin?
Joost: We met at International Studies in 2013. We both specialised in Latin America and spent our elective space in Santiago, Chile at the same time. I studied at Diego Portales, while Mira did an internship as a journalist. After graduation in 2016, we briefly fell out of touch, of course we remained Facebook friends but we reconnected in real life 2019.
Joost continues: When I started Correspondents of the World in the summer of 2019, I remembered Mira’s love for journalism and storytelling and rang her up. ‘Would you like to write a story?’ I told her. From one came another and before I knew it, she was part of the team.
Mira adds: I received Joost’s call on my balcony in Nepal. I was working there as a tutor in Peace and Conflict. He told me about his idea of Correspondents of the World and I got super excited. The platform gave me the opportunity to transform the theories I learned and taught into an engaging personal narrative, providing me with a medium to cover subjects that are not generally reported about. Joost did not have to do a lot of convincing to get me on board!

What would you like to achieve with Correspondents of the World?
Joost: With Correspondents of the World, we strive after a world in which we have a better understanding of one another. A world in which people from different ‘bubbles’ can interact with each other. This means we acknowledge both our differences and similarities. Not just in our local communities, but in a larger, worldwide community. We believe that a better understanding of one another will allow for a better way of communicating, and, as a consequence, a fairer and more equal dialogue between people- irrespectively of their backgrounds.
Mira joins in: Our goal is to publish each story in as many languages as possible. Further, the platform tries to exclude the power relation often seen in media, when a journalist from the majority of a country reports about someone from a minority, rather than letting the person speak for itself, like it is often the case with the media coverage of refugees, for example. Sounds all very International Studies like, doesn’t it? ;)

How does the platform work?
Joost: We mainly interact with people in one of two ways; as writers or as readers. We challenge our writers, or correspondents to realise their voice by encouraging them to tell their stories and share their personal experiences in relation to global issues we all experience in our own way. By collecting, translating and publishing these stories on our website and social media channels, Correspondents of the World provides the means to amplify individual voices, reaching a diverse, global audience and a growing community dedicated to understanding global issues one story at a time.

On the other hand, we challenge our readers to realise how the same global issues they experience in their everyday life are experienced differently by others, and encourage them to reflect on their assumptions, prejudices and privileges with every story we share. We hope to foster a better understanding of the very personal implications that issues like gender, sexuality, migration or liberation can have on people, and aim to help readers who were so far not actively involved in those topics to better grasp the meaning of these topics. One way we do this is through the ‘Tea Talks’ mentioned before.

How can people get involved with Correspondents of the World?
In fact, a lot of our Correspondents have been affiliated with our dear International Studies programme; you can read the stories by Shakila, Mani, Kami, and others. And the ever-energetic Sarita Koendjbiharie occasionally puts us in touch with interested and interesting people. Students, staff and alumni can get involved in various ways. Of course we would love to hear your story!

But you’re also welcome to get involved a bit more structurally: join our Social Media team (getting stories to their audiences), Translators (translating in various language, we still have 5,493+ languages to go…), Editors, Regional Ambassadors (pioneering Correspondents of the World in your country), and Community Builders.

About the authors:
Mira Kinn (28) is from Germany and graduated International Studies in 2016, specialising in Latin America. Next to correspondents of the world, she works at a Media Start-up in Berlin, as a project manager. More about Mira.

Joost Backer (25) is Dutch and graduated International Studies in 2016, specialising in Latin America. Next to Correspondents of the World, he works as a Sustainability Expert for a Consulting firm in Utrecht. More about Joost

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