Praveena Somasundaram, a junior at the Early College at Guilford, has been chosen as the 2017 Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting student fellow for international reporting based on her proposal, "The Ties that Bind: the Impact of Gender Inequality on Children in India”.
“Guilford is one of our oldest Campus Consortium partners, with this spring marking our sixth year of working together,” says Ann Peters, University and Community Outreach Director for the Pulitzer Center. “We recall with great fondness our initial conversations with Jeff Jeske and his enthusiasm equal to ours to bring journalists and students together to dig more deeply into issues from around the world. The success of this program is a tribute to Jeff.” (Guilford English Professor Jeff Jeske died in January 2017.)
Praveena opened her proposal with this proverb: Thali kattiya purushanukku adangi ponnum. It translates to, “You must be obedient to the man who ties a Thali around you.” A Thali is a necklace that the groom ties around the bride during a Hindu wedding.
“I am reporting on gender inequality in India, with a focus on children’s education,” Praveena says. “I referenced the Thali and marriage in my proposal because India still has child brides, many of whom do not get an education because they are married at such a young age. I hope to speak to these women for part of my project.”
Learning as a Journalist
“The international reporting fellowship allows one student each year to go in-depth themselves — and shed light — on an underreported issue of his or her own choosing,” Ann says. "Together, the journalists’ visits to campus and each of the students’ reporting projects are a testament to how we all can learn from each other.”
Praveena intends to use her $2,500 fellowship to do reporting in both rural and urban settings in India in summer 2017. She will produce video pieces and some print pieces for publication.
“This project will be a new venture into journalism for me because I’ve never been abroad with the purpose of writing a story,” she says. “I hope I can learn and tell compelling stories from India to bring awareness to the conditions of children’s education in India.”
“(Praveena) is an impressive young woman, and she had a strong proposal on a subject that’s important to her,” says Cheryl Hatch, Visiting Assistant Professor for English and adviser to The Guilfordian, Guilford’s award-winning student newspaper. “She’s poised, she’s thoughtful, she’s bright, she’s dedicated — and I can’t wait to see what she does. I had her in English 282, the Journalism class, and she’s going to be the features editor at The Guilfordian next year.”
All student fellows for the year will gather in Washington, D.C., where they share their reporting and hear from journalists and editors about the profession and topics they cover. The 2017 Washington Weekend is set for October 20 and 21. Currently, there are more than 30 college and universities working in partnership with the Pulitzer Center.