Magazine features student trips

Friday, January 30, 2009

Correction appended.

Sarah Kay ’10 considers herself an adventurous traveler, but even she couldn’t have imagined the experiences she would have in Prague, which included getting to know local artists and meeting a man who made wooden marionettes.

And now Kay will have the chance to share the stories she picked up while studying abroad last fall, thanks to National Geographic’s Glimpse Magazine.

Started by Nick Fitzhugh ’02 in 2000, the print and online magazine offers firsthand accounts of young people living abroad.

In the spring of 2007, Glimpse moved from its original Pawtucket office to its current Washington, D.C. location in National Geographic’s headquarters, said Glimpse Editor-in-Chief Kerala Taylor ’02. Though Taylor and Fitzhugh first presented their idea to National Geographic in 2002, it took almost five years to make the original magazine and Web site part of National Geographic, Taylor said.

“The first four years were spent bartending,” she added, and trying to further establish the magazine.

In the fall of 2008, Fitzhugh and Taylor launched the National Geographic Correspondents Program, Taylor said. Kay was one of eight correspondents chosen to participate in the pilot program.

In order to receive the $600 stipend and the chance to be published in the print magazine, correspondents must complete two stories in video, photo or written form, as well as a written feature on a resident of the region and 20 tips for future travelers to the area, Taylor said.

“The purpose behind the program was so that Glimpse would have an elite group of writers that would produce high-quality content for the print magazine,” Taylor said.

Though the program may have given Glimpse ready-to-publish writers, Professor Emeritus of Engineering Barrett Hazeltine said the magazine was professional from its start as an independent study project he oversaw in 2000.

“Glimpse started off with high-class content provided by students not just from Brown, but from other nearby colleges,” Hazeltine said. “I’m proud Nick was able to merge Glimpse with National Geographic as early as he did.”

That National Geographic seal of approval was key to Kay’s insider look into a foreign land.

“Being a National Geographic correspondent was like having an all-access pass (to the Czech Republic),” Kay said.

While in Prague, Kay realized how nice and helpful Czech people could be. That is, after “they decided they liked and could trust you,” she said.

“The best thing about the program was that the National Geographic name gave you legitimacy, but by not being a big-time journalist, people didn’t freak out around me,” Kay said. “I probably just seemed like a naive and impressionable American girl to them.”

This accessibility to people abroad is what she liked best about the program and what led her to her wildest adventure – the pursuit of a rock that some claim is Superman’s Kryptonite.

“My mom is kind of a rock enthusiast and told me about a certain rock that can only be found in the Czech Republic,” Kay said.

Bits of a meteorite that hit Germany years ago merged with the Earth to form the green-colored rock, moldavite, Kay said. It eventually traveled by river to the Czech Republic, now the only place it can be found.

When Kay set out to look for the rock, which some believe holds metaphysical powers, she met an entire village and found herself asking its inhabitants whether people made the connection between maldovite and Superman.

“No, that’s a made-up story,” was the only reply she received, but that made-up story will reach a world of readers through Glimpse’s pages.

An article in Thursday’s Herald (“Magazine features student trips,” Jan. 29) reported that Glimpse magazine is still part of the National Geographic. In fact, the magazine is an independent nonprofit supported by the National Geographic Society. The article also stated that Glimpse has both print and online editions. The magazine only exists online.

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