Interviewing and Story Development in Mexico
Come south of the border to our neighbor México and develop your reporting and story-telling skills in a newsroom environment! On this program, you will professionalize your skills in interviewing and story development, from the art of posing questions to the critical task of listening actively and creatively to answers. Faculty leader Peter Laufer is an award-winning author journalist and broadcaster who will teach two courses on the program with a focus on interviewing and developing stories across cultural differences and linguistic barriers. Spanish language fluency is not a requirement for the program. The goal of the coursework is teaching how to report from anywhere transcending language barriers.
“Finding the stories that exist – breaking and hidden – in the places, people and events that surround us mandates that we engage – no matter our personal backgrounds – multiple voices, diverse points of view and a wide variety of cultural experiences.” – Professor Laufer
As a final project on the program, you will develop and report on a feature story. Your feature story will be reviewed and edited as part of the class, with the goal of publication.
By the end of the term, you should be able to:
- identify high-value interviewees
- successfully engage interviewees
- take accurate notes with or without recording devices
- integrate interviews into active and compelling narrative prose
- defend your work from critiques
The program is based in Querétaro, México. It is just two air hours south of Houston—and it is a world away. Querétaro was one of the first Spanish colonial cities and its past is well preserved in its buildings, restaurants, and parks—especially in the Centro Histórico where the classroom is located. Approximately 1.4 million people live in the city. The city is known for its excellent universities, growing economy, safety, and cleanliness. The state of Querétaro and Mexico City are two of the safest regions in the country according to the US Department of State: assigned the same travel advisory level as many European countries.
The city has an urban design which promotes equity and inclusion in historic sites, public squares, car-free livable streets and a culture of public gathering places, sidewalk cafes, markets and bars. The hospitality and warmth of the México people coupled with the absence of mass tourism from the USA makes Querétaro a perfect setting for this program. Program activities will include visits to and engagement with members of the indigenous Otomí population, a cooking class, visits to museums, and a walking tour of Queretaro. Students on the program will also connect with local reporters, journalists, and writers.
Click here to hear from Faculty Leader Peter Laufer.
Insights from program alumni:
Click here to check out what past students on the program had to say about their unique journalistic opportunities in Spain.
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Two courses, for a total of eight quarter credits, will be taught in English by Professor Peter Laufer from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. Each course is specially designed to take advantage of the rich opportunities that México offers as a classroom.
You will learn practical career skills related to interviewing, such as interviewing ethics, filtering questions, source vetting, unannounced interviewing, the power of silence as an interview tactic, interview preparation, and when it is permissible to change the wording of a direct quote.
One of the key elements of these courses is learning to transcend language barriers. To that end, you will receive specific training in interview techniques that do not require a common language between interviewee and interviewer.
Course descriptions and syllabi can be found under “Courses and Credits” on this webpage.
UO students: please refer to the UO Course Equivalency Process and the UO Office of the Registrar Course Equivalency Database.
Non-UO students: Actual credit awarded is determined by the relevant department at your university in consultation with the study abroad office. Check with your study abroad advisor for more information.
This program has a rolling admission application process: GEO staff (and the program faculty leader, if applicable) will complete a review of the application materials of complete applications in the order that they are submitted (“first come, first serve”). Decisions about acceptance will be made shortly after you submit a complete application. There are some programs that fill fast, some even before the deadline. Students are encouraged to complete applications and commit to programs early.
Acceptance is based on a holistic review of your application. This includes a review of your GPA, transcripts (including courses taken and in-progress), any additional requirements or prerequisites (see section "Additional Requirements"), and the short statement. Some programs require a letter of recommendation from a faculty that is not the program's faculty leader. If a letter of recommendation is required, you will find more information in your GEO application portal.
Peter Laufer is an award-winning author, broadcaster, documentarian and journalist. He has studied and taught throughout the world—Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia. He sent home reports on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the wars in Central America for NBC Radio, reported for CBS Radio as the Berlin Wall fell, and chased butterflies in Nicaragua for his book The Dangerous World of Butterflies. An accomplished author of over a dozen well-reviewed books, Laufer writes on borders, migration and identity along with animal rights. He also reported, wrote and produced several documentaries while an NBC News correspondent, ranging in topics from the crises facing Vietnam War veterans to illiteracy and hunger in America, and a study of Americans incarcerated overseas, for which he won the George Polk Award. Peter has experience leading this program in Spain, Austria and Argentina.
Housing in Querétaro is designed to help you experience the local culture of Mexico and to improve language acquisition while living with a Mexican host family. Homestays are carefully selected to fit your needs and requests. All students are placed in homes that have been carefully selected and vetted for safety and cleanliness. You will have access to a private room, internet, and most meals are provided by your host family. The comida (lunch) is the biggest meal of the day; it usually takes place between 2-4 p.m. and is an ideal opportunity to interact with your host family. All host families are within walking distance or a short bus ride from classes.