The new foreign correspondents: Finding a way to curate a generation of wanderers

Stony Man Mountain, Shenandoah National Forest

The view from Stony Man Mountain, Shenandoah National Forest

My daughter texted me this photo from atop Stony Man Mountain in Virginia yesterday. She’s a counselor at a camp on the flanks of the mountain, and has no phone reception, no texting, no Facebook, from within the camp. Only atop the mountain can she communicate easily with those far away.

Her fellow students, traveling in France, Germany, India and elsewhere, also reach out to share their journeys when they can, finding wi-fi in coffee shops for blog posts or emailing large groups of friends or creating their own listservs.

More than two years ago, I wondered aloud for a class whether we could find a way to use those wandering students to supplement dwindling journalism budgets for foreign correspondents. I haven’t seen a solution yet; perhaps I haven’t been looking in the right places.

But clearly, on a personal level this summer, I’ve seen the power these students have to show us our world, whether they’re traveling by bike across the country for the homeless, touring Europe to see and write about opera or just reaching out to a relative from a mountaintop. It seems we could find a better way to connect them, and ourselves.

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