Posted by: Loren Coleman on June 24th, 2008
Cryptozoology will soon have another friend in China. Champ enthusiast, Winooski (Vermont) native and Brandeis University student Eli Harrington will leave Friday, June 27, 2008, for an eight-week internship at Voice of America’s Beijing bureau and will likely report on activities at the Summer Olympics. Maybe he’ll report on the Yeren too? Or those mysterious Chinese lake monsters, in his spare time?
The opportunity came together quickly, Harrington said. Brandeis encourages internships and work experience, and one of his professors mentioned Harrington, 20, to a former colleague who worked for Voice of America.
After a few phone interviews, he was hired and told to start packing his bags.
The Voice of America bureau in Beijing has only four or five employees, so Harrington said he’ll probably be asked to do a variety of tasks. “It is so small, I will be able to do more hands-on production,” Harrington said.
The prospect fits Harrington’s personality. He said he has widely varied interests. He said he embraced the French language and culture, thanks largely to Winooski High School teacher Maida Townsend. He’s now enthusiastically learning mandarin Chinese.
He’s also interested in finance, global issues and journalism, and is on the Brandeis baseball team. His major is international global studies: global communications and media.
Harrington said he doesn’t know where his interests will take him, but he is particularly interested in international journalism. He said the journalism bug bit him years ago, when his mother published the now-defunct Winooski Eagle, a community newspaper.
Harrington arrives in one of the world’s most dynamic countries at a time of immense change and upheaval. The May earthquake in Sichuan Province that killed tens of thousands of people helped ease, at least temporarily, the leash-hold Chinese authorities have on journalists, not to mention public protest. Unrest in Tibet is simmering. And the Olympics are putting a spotlight on China.
“It seems to be the pride of China. It’s sort of their coming-out party,” Harrington said of the Games.
Journalists in China don’t have nearly the latitude they do in the United States, and he said he looks forward to learn how Chinese authorities will react to him as he asks questions, films street scenes and develops Web content for Voice of America. “It will be interesting how they view journalism,” Harrington said.
He credits his upbringing in Winooski with encouraging him to pursue varied interests. The city is small, so he didn’t get lost in the crowd. He was able to pursue his curiosities with help from parents, neighbors, teachers and other students in the close-knit community. Winooski is also diverse, at least by Vermont standards, exposing him to numerous influences, he said.
Harrington’s location close to Lake Champlain seeded his interests in the local lake monster, Champ, as he grew up.
“People in Winooski will take you as far as you want to go,” he said.
Harrington said he’ll return from China in late August, attend his senior year at Brandeis, then consider his options.
Sources: “Winooski native heads to China” by Matt Sutkoski, Burlington Free Press, Burlington, Vermont. Personal communication with Loren Coleman, 2008.