Last summer, Devin Windelspecht participated in a Dialogue of Civilizations program in the Balkans, where he studied the fall of Yugoslavia and the Bosnian War. Upon return, he penned an incisive narrative of the experience for the first issue of the Global Journal, a new student-run publication aimed at shedding light on what it’s like to work, study, and live abroad.
Windelspecht concluded the 900-word essay by reflecting on the power of the Dialogue, a monthlong experience that cut to the heart of a violent conflict like no textbook nor classroom lecture could ever do. “Dialogue is more than just traveling to another country and seeing another culture,” writes Windelspecht, SSH’18, a third-year international affairs major. “It is allowing oneself the dignity to see others as human beings, to hear their stories and look in their eyes and see the pain that lies there still.”
The piece—titled Sarajevo: The War, The People, The Dialogue—is emblematic of the simultaneously philosophical and heartfelt writing that has come to characterize the content of the Global Journal. It was founded in the spring of 2015 by three students, a trio of well-traveled global citizens who marshaled their passion for international affairs and the power of the global narrative to assemble a large team of storytellers.
Published in February, the inaugural issue comprises reflections from more than 20 students and young alumni. Most of the pieces focus on their co-op, Dialogue, and N.U.in experiences in countries like India, Cambodia, and Costa Rica. Others zero in on campus events, including talks on topics ranging from climate change and peace building to border security and the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty.
Olivia Arnold reflected on her Dialogue to Zambia, where she worked to teach a trio of adolescent girls how to read and write English through a nonprofit called Vision of Hope. After just one month at the school, her students were able to read simple sentences like “The boy has a banana,” a feat that brought her to tears. “By teaching the three girls some reading and writing in English, I felt like I was making a concrete, long-lasting impact,” writes Arnold, AMD’18, a third-year journalism major. “Knowing that maybe, just maybe, my work would improve future opportunities for the girls made my time in Zambia extremely rewarding.”
Audrey Pence recalled her co-op in Istanbul, Turkey, where she worked as a journalist for the Fuller Project for International Reporting. She wrote a number of stories, from bride kidnapping to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, but much of her time was spent interviewing young politically active Turks leading up to the November 2015 parliamentary elections. “Although the country is still in a sort of limbo and there is much to be seen,” writes Pence, SSH’17, a fourth-year international affairs major, “these elections were a testament to the will of the people and the still beating heart of democracy within Turkey, able to make change when change is demanded by the people.”
My hope is that the activities of the Global Journal will open new pathways for students to better connect with the global community on and off campus and realize their abilities to impact communities beyond Northeastern as agents of change.
— Jonathan Andrew, the group’s faculty advisor
‘Agents of change’
The Global Journal took shape rather quickly, transforming from an idea into a reality in just one year. In the spring of 2015, three international affairs co-op coordinators reached out to a work-study student in their department named Madlen Gubernick, then a second-year international affairs major and journalism minor who had spent a semester studying in Ireland through the N.U.in program. The co-op coordinators had been collecting reflective writing assignments from students who had completed international co-ops, and they wanted to know whether Gubernick would be interested in spearheading a publication-based student group aimed at showcasing their work to the greater Northeastern community.
Gubernick jumped at the opportunity, quickly convincing two more students to join her on her journey to expanding the reach of the university’s global programs through the publication of the journal. Together, Gubernick, Yasmeen Alhaj, SSH’18, and Elizabeth Zona, DMSB’18, assembled a team of more than three dozen writers, editors, photographers, web designers, marketers, and social media experts, many of them with extensive global experience.
“I wanted to create a platform for students like me and give them a community with which they could share their experiences,” says Gubernick, a Brooklyn native whose global resumé includes a journalism-based Dialogue in Spain. “Most Northeastern students are taking risks and seeing the world, and I didn’t want them to have to do it alone.”
Notes Jonathan Andrew, the group’s faculty advisor and one of the three co-op coordinators who helped shape the idea: “It was extremely important for this publication to be student-led and as inclusive as possible for students from all majors and background. We also wanted the publication to encompass reflections from all types of international experiential learning programs in addition to co-op.”
Going forward, the Global Journal will be published semiannually, once every fall and spring. But the publication’s website will be updated with new content on a more regular basis, including pieces that will not appear in print. Starting this fall, Gubernick will be expanding the group’s impact to include a speaker series through which students and faculty will share their global research and culturally enriching international experiences. As Andrew puts it, “My hope is that the activities of the Global Journal will open new pathways for students to better connect with the global community on and off campus and realize their abilities to impact communities beyond Northeastern as agents of change.”
Both Gubernick and Windelspecht note that the Global Journal has shaped their career paths, leading them to find their true callings. Windelspecht discovered his passion for writing by penning stories for the publication and wants to incorporate the craft into his future career, which might include working in a post-conflict zone like Bosnia. Gubernick, for her part, wants to work for a social enterprise that tackles global issues like terrorism and poverty, the skills for which she honed as the journal’s editor-in-chief.
“Working on the Global Journal has been the best part of my Northeastern experience,” says Gubernick. “I’ve learned so much about how to organize a team and deal with the unexpected, which is what running a social enterprise is all about.”