Will Feuer (BA '19) submitted this field report from his internship with Southeast Asia Globe in Cambodia.
Four hours outside of Phnom Penh the bus breaks down. It’s roughly midnight, and it’s raining, but as I stumble outside, calling a taxi and heading home doesn’t even enter my mind. I’m a journalist on assignment. About 7 hours later I would make it to Poipet where I would cross the border into Thailand, walk six kilometers up the road to the nearest city, Aranyaprathet, and hop on a bus to my final destination – Buriram.
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The Monday before that pivotal weekend began as most Mondays did in Phnom Penh. I had my coffee, wrote my morning article, and our weekly editorial meeting began, when reporters pitch stories. All summer, I hadn’t successfully pitched a story, and I assumed that morning would be no different, but I assumed wrong. As I outlined a story-to-be about the unparalleled rise of the Thai Premier League while the historical elites in the region continue to falter, I saw an excited twinkle in the eyes of my editor-in-chief, who worked for years covering football in his nation of origin, the UK. “Check to see if there are matches this weekend; you’re going to Thailand,” he interrupted.
By Thursday I was off to see the league champions, Buriram United, play at their home stadium. After a 17 hour trip that was dense with frustrating, yet now humorous, missteps, I received a message from that same editor: “These kinds of trips, getting out and about, meeting people and experiencing new things - this is why we do this job. I always try to have a moment when I’m on a story to sit back and think to myself…this is my job!”
During my time in Cambodia and Thailand, I found the most rewarding stories to be ones that affirm the common bonds of humanity. I wrote about an all-female Malaysian band breaking taboos, the rise of Thai football and the nascent Cambodian figure skating team, which even made it into the NY Times’ daily Asia briefing.
All in all, I fell in love with journalism because it enables me to simultaneously pursue my two favorite things – using my mind to think critically and improve my writing craft, and to, if I do my job well, connect people through, and perhaps despite, time and space – making the world just a bit more connected.
Will Feuer (BA '19) is interested in journalism and the relationship between policy and the media. He is particularly interested in foreign news coverage in the Asia-Pacific region, especially China, where he's lived, worked, and studied.