Sickening Nazi mistreatment of Jews, acts of legendary self-sacrifice - all came under the scrutiny of Journalism students during a trip to Prague.
The eight students from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) spent two weeks in the Czech capital city during a #DMUglobal summer internship at Charles University, one of the oldest universities in Europe.
The chillingly ironic Nazi slogan 'Work sets you free' at the Terezin camp
Working as mobile journalists from internet cafes and using their smartphones, the group used their digital skills to file features for their host’s English-language iForum web magazine, and to produce a string of articles, photos and video reports for their course’s Leicestershire Press website.
Harry Rogers, who will shortly start his third year at DMU, said: “To be able to travel to one of the oldest universities in Europe and write content for their magazine was a fantastic experience.
“We also took part in a live blogging day around the city centre which proved to be the most enjoyable part of the trip.
“We were able to write about anything and everything. It was this freedom that allowed me, in my opinion, to write some of my most creative pieces of work.
“I would definitely recommend any DMU student to get involved with #DMUglobal, I can honestly say it was one of the best things I have ever done.”
The #DMUglobal group working from an internet cafe in Prague
Topics covered by the mixture of single and joint honours Journalism students included articles marking the 30th anniversary of the Erasmus scheme, which enables EU students to study for a year at a university in another European country.
One wrote about a visit to the notorious former Nazi concentration camp at Terezin, where more than 150,000 Jews were held before being sent to the death camps - only 17,247 survived the Second World War.
Other stories included investigations of the heroic last stand of seven Czech paratroopers in 1942, and the self-sacrifice of student Jan Palach who set himself on fire in protest at the Soviet invasion of 1969.
Fellow third year Olly Sullivan, studying International Relations and Journalism joint honours, added: “It's always interesting looking at different cultures and histories, and it was great learning about the turbulent history of Bohemia - especially because of how passionate our host from Charles University was.
“Interviewing strangers can be difficult at times when at home, but it really is an extra challenge when you're doing it abroad with people who aren't native speakers. It was a great challenge, which actually worked out well as the general quality of English is great there. So the trip has definitely taught me to be more confident.
“I always look on the #DMUglobal website and the departure board outside Hugh Aston, so I definitely want to go on another trip, and couldn't recommend them enough.”
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* Read the students’ stories on the Leicestershire Press website
Ollie Heppenstall, who will start his second year in October, was similarly pleased. He said: “I found it a welcome challenge to be doing Journalism in an unfamiliar setting with a steeper than normal learning curve.
“It was a massive, massive amount of fun and I'd heartily recommend it to anyone. The highlights were getting to write features about something I'm passionate about, mainly history, and being able to experience somewhere I've always wanted to go to and to combine it with my profession of choice.”
The Jewish cemetery at Terezin
“It was awesome visiting some of the castles and taking in the spectacular views,” added Matthew Earth, also going into his third year.
“It was good to meet people from other years. Everyone got along well and I felt we all became quite close towards the end of the trip.
“Overall I would absolutely recommend visiting Prague on a trip like ours. I had a great time, made some new friends and experienced a culture I may not have done otherwise.”
Since its launch in 2015, the #DMUglobal scheme has enabled more than 6,800 students to expand their cultural horizons and boost their employability by travelling on trips to 60 countries.
Posted on Tuesday 19th September 2017