WSU students savor final few days learning overseas in Serbia

SPOKANE, Wash. — Local college students are squeezing in the last few days of their once-in-a-lifetime trip to Serbia. It’s given them a global perspective they’re bringing back to America.

“I definitely recognize our privilege,” said Abby Davis. She’s a senior in broadcast news and public relations.

The journalism students from Washington State University’s Edward R. Murrow College of Communication are spending a week in Serbia learning about press freedom. Seeing what journalists deal with overseas opened their eyes to the freedoms they have in America.

“Honestly, we’ve met some of the greatest journalists that we’ll ever get to meet. They face a tremendous struggle every day just to get the news out,” said Rick Sinnett. He’s a junior studying Integrated Strategic Communications.

Since some of the media in Serbia is state-run, the government controls much of what people do or do not know. In the U.S., we have a right to free speech. In Serbia, that protection is limited.

“We definitely have huge advantages in the United States just with the available information that we have and the ability to relay it without any influence from a state entity,” Sinnett said.

The United States has worked for years to sustain independent journalists working in the region. The four students were able to see that progress at a special dinner the U.S. Embassy hosted specifically for them.

“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I am deeply grateful to the U.S. Embassy of Belgrade,” he said.

Serbia’s capital of Belgrade will be remembered as full of character but mostly as a welcoming host.

“I can encapsulate it in four words: friendly, graffiti, cigarettes and coffee, but friendly definitely being the very first,” Sinnett said with a chuckle.

This was the first international experience for many of them, and they only have a couple of days left to fit even more in.

“We just want to do everything,” Davis said.

The local team in Serbia will fly back to Washington this weekend.

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