Student Receives News Media Internship in Kurdistan

Knox connections: Chicago, Toronto, Iraq

August 03, 2011

Stephen Danilovich in Kurdistan

From Chicago to Toronto to the Kurdistan region of Iraq, a journalism internship this summer engaged a Knox College student in both real and virtual connections worldwide.

Stephen Danilovich, a Knox sophomore and graduate of Gordon Technical High School in Chicago, worked as an intern at Rudaw, an English-language newspaper in Erbil, the capital of the semiautonomous Kurdistan region in northern Iraq.

"I worked in a little office in the city, from 9 to 5, six days of the week -- which is to say Saturday through Thursday, seeing as Friday is the day of rest in Muslim countries," Danilovich said.

Rudaw -- which also publishes on the web in Arabic, Kurdish and Dutch -- is an international operation.

"My editor-in-chief, Ayub Nuri, lives in Toronto, and he assigned stories and guided me by email," said Danilovich -- who was largely on his own in Erbil.

Stephen Danilovich at Rudaw newspaper"As an intern I was allowed to work at my own pace. I took taxis to get around the city. My coworkers didn't speak much English, except for the interpreter, Hawar, who was there to help if I had any questions," Danilovich said.

Photo, right: Stephen Danilovich (left) with Rudaw newspaper staff.

His stories required interviews with political, academic and business figures. "I drove to the Chamber of Commerce as well as the University of Kurdistan to get my interviews. One day, I had to go to the Ministry of Foreign Relations, and it took all day to find the building."

At the Ministry, Danilovich spoke with the department chief, Falah Mustafa Bakir, about the impending withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, while a story on the Iraqi stock market featured an interview with Kurdistan's first licensed broker. For another story, Danilovich interviewed experts in the field of international security, including Knox faculty member L. Sue Hulett, Rik and Sophia Henke Distinguished Professor of Political Science and chair of international relations.

The highlight of the internship, Danilovich said, was a series of on-the-street interviews. "I went to the marketplace in the center of Erbil with my translator and talked with about a dozen people to get their opinions on the withdrawal of US troops [from Iraq]. I got a great taste of the local culture in Iraqi Kurdistan."