Overseas Press Club

Overseas Press Club Foundation
Encouraging the next generation of foreign correspondents

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Previous Winners
1992 2003

OPC Foundation scholars 2008
The 2008 OPC Foundation scholars: left to right, sitting, Mayank S  Bubna, New York University; Alexandra Suich, Yale; Sheila B. Lalwani,  Harvard;  Sarah  Mishkin, Yale; Devon A.  Haynie,  Columbia; and Mariano Castillo, Columbia; standing, Jerry  Guo,  Yale; Yu Sun, NYU; Max Strasser,  Oberlin; Ben Weller, Indiana; Paul Sonne,  Oxford ; and Rollo  Romig,  NYU.

The 2008 OPC Foundation Scholars

Max Strasser, Oberlin College

Conversant in Spanish, German and Arabic, the Oberlin junior spent the fall in Jordon mastering the language, culture and politics of the Middle East.  He wrote about a Jordanian Islamic politician attempting to bring about social change through legislation, not revolution.  He believes that it is important – although unlikely – that the US recognize democratic Islamic parties as legitimate political actors and accept their right to participate.

Ben Weller, Indiana University

Ben is the recipient of a 2008 OPC Foundation internship and will spend the summer at the Reuters bureau in Seoul, Korea, where he once lived and taught school.  The graduate of Duke University - whose parents ran a small-town Indiana paper - was born with “ink in his veins” and intends to launch his photojournalism career in Asia.  A graduate student in journalism at Indiana, he wrote of the need for the international press to cover the destabilizing forces within and flowing from Burma.

Jerry Guo, Yale University

Jerry’s interests range from economic growth in his native China to environmental damage in South America.  A junior at Yale, he wrote about the under-reported consequence of global warming on the equator, the massive infestation of invasive species that upset the region’s fragile ecosystem; specifically, his own experiences observing the efforts of park rangers in the Galapagos Islands to control the islands’ explosive population of feral goats.

Mariano Castillo, Columbia University

A graduate of Texas A&M, Mariano’s essay was about his own experiences covering the drug wars on the Mexican boarder.  While violence against the media had curtailed the coverage of drug murders in the Mexican press, Mariano followed the story – amid threats to his own safety – so others will understand the devastating effects of drug cartels on border cities.  He is now a candidate for a master’s degree in international affairs at Columbia.  He has also won an OPC Foundation internship and will spend the summer at a Reuters bureau in Latin America.

Sheila B. Lalwani, Harvard University

Fluent in German and Hindi, proficient in Arabic, and armed with a master’s degree in public policy from the Kennedy School of Government, the Indiana University graduate intends to cover the nuances of world affairs.  In her essay, Sheila wrote about honor killings and the absence of empathy in the German Turkish community for a young woman whose brothers murdered her for leaving a forced marriage.

Mayank S. Bubna, New York University

Mayank’s experiences in Somalia, Sri Lanka, Ghana, and Burma have only fueled his interest in becoming a war correspondent.  A graduate of Carnegie Mellow, he is now pursuing a master’s degree in political science at NYU.  In his essay, he wrote about the chaos that now comprise everyday life in Mogadishu and the need for the world to pay attention to areas of conflict even after the “story becomes old news.”

Paul Sonne, University of Oxford

A Columbia University graduate, Paul is now pursuing a master’s in philosophy as a Marshall scholar at Oxford.  Fluent in Russian, he will return to Russia this summer as an OPC Foundation intern in AP’s Moscow bureau.  In his essay, he wrote about his experiences observing Georgia’s fledging efforts at democracy, seen through the perspective of two administrations, whose leaders – both intolerant of opposition – seemed incapable of learning from the past.

Sarah Mishkin, Yale University

Sarah wrote about her efforts to discover what remains of an Egyptian Jewish culture that has been part of Cairo’s history since medieval times.  A senior at Yale and an Arabic speaker, Sarah hopes to return to Egypt to report on the social transformations within that country, the communities and social lives of those living on the margins, and, more specifically, the Sudanese immigrants and the discrimination they face.

Alexandra Suich, Yale University

After graduating in May from Yale, Alexandra hopes to return to Africa to report on the lives of African women, the “continent’s forgotten people.”  Fluent in French and proficient in Swahili, she just returned from Kenya where she had gone during semester break to cover the tumultuous Kenyan elections.  Her essay told the tragic story of a Kenyan AIDS victim – shunned and alone – still struggling to maintain the health of her child.

Rollo Romig, New York University

Rollo intends to cover “the aftermath – what works and what fails when it comes to post-conflict reckoning and reconciliation.”  A graduate of Columbia College in Chicago, he wrote about efforts of Liberian forestry officials to protect the country’s natural resources, despite corrupt regimes and exploitation.  Rollo is a recipient of an OPC Foundation internship and will travel next fall to Phnom Penh for a stint at Cambodia Daily.

Devon Haynie, Columbia University

Devon would like to write about human rights in conflict-ridden or post-conflict countries, much as she did in her essay about a Kosovar cameraman and guide on a project she investigated in the Balkans.  A graduate of Colgate, she recently received a master’s in journalism from Columbia.  She is the recipient of an OPC Foundation internship and will travel to South Africa in March to work in the AP bureau in Johannesburg.

Yu Sun, New York University
A graduate student in business and economic reporting, Yu wants to investigate how the establishment of research and development centers by multinationals will affect China’s innovative capacity and overall economic development.  A graduate of Fudan University in Shanghai, the former news researcher for Financial Times wrote about the perils Chinese energy companies face when investing in developing countries.

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