In the past year or so, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what it means to be a storyteller and to tell a good story. I’ve written about how my organic chemistry professors tell the story of nucleophiles and electrophiles; I’ve researched how to frame the climate change debate in ways that may be more accessible to both sides of the political spectrum; and I’ve watched a lot of really good TV.
There are a lot of different types of storytellers, and a lot of different storytelling roles that I have already experienced, whether that was as a child passionate about creative writing or as an aspiring science writer breaking down complex oceanographic topics during my co-op at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. But there’s one particular role I haven’t tried out at all, and that I’m getting the chance to try out now: that of international storyteller.
In only four days, I’ll be departing Boston with nearly 20 other Northeastern journalism students to spend five weeks as an international reporter in Greece. We’ll be spending three weeks in Thessaloniki and two weeks in Athens, where our job will be to tell stories about the goings-on in those cities for an international audience. This is exciting and scary for a lot of different reasons, from the basic (What if no one speaks English? How do I navigate an unfamiliar city?) to the more complex (How do I frame a local story in a way that speaks to a broader audience? What are the right questions to ask?).
As someone with a double major in journalism and biology, I’m planning to use my combined skill set to report on and write about science and environmental stories in Greece. On the one hand, my background research and knowledge make that seem totally feasible; on the other, I really have no idea how I’m going to do that. But I think that will be part of the uniqueness of this experience: that I have the opportunity to stretch my familiar skills in a completely unfamiliar place. I’m already a storyteller. I’m already a science writer. Now, I’m going to find out how to be an international storyteller. I’m nervous, but I can hardly wait.