Fulbright Scholar Jorge Caraballo of Colombia is studying Digital Journalism at Northeastern University.
When Jorge Caraballo was in his first year of college at Universidad de Antioquia in his native Colombia, he imagined himself in the future as a lawyer, a “serious” profession that he felt would keep him close to his real passions of literature and the human experience. After a few months, it became clear to him that the field was simply not for him, “My backpack was not loaded with law textbooks but with the books of García Márquez, Kafka, and Borges.” His discontent Caraballo set off looking for a profession that allowed him to pursue his true passions. Lucky for him, he found it just a few buildings away in the School of Journalism. “It was kind of a revelation when I understood that being a journalist meant that I could go deep in whatever topic I wanted or that I could read any book and story, if after doing that I was able to communicate why was it meaningful to me. From the beginning, I assumed Journalism both as a pleasure and a social responsibility” Caraballo shares.
His passion for storytelling led him to pursue a Fulbright scholarship for graduate studies at Northeastern University. His current academic work focuses on how digital tools and multimedia storytelling can improve the way journalists inform and engage with communities. For Caraballo, this is not a purely academic pursuit.
“Colombia has one of the longest civil wars in the world, and for the past five years has been in a process of healing wounds and finding peace… I want to contribute to that process, and I think that nonfiction storytelling can be an effective strategy to build peace. Stories can help to expand a person’s range of emotions and make her or him feel what others are feeling. In a polarized society, doing that in the right way can have an enormous impact.”
He sees his studies at Northeastern are critical to his future plans of returning to Colombia to participate in efforts to improve social cohesion creating a digital medium that informs and engage Colombians and help them recognize themselves after a long armed conflict.
Throughout his program, Laspau’s help has been essential. “Laspau’s biggest contribution has been that it has done all what’s possible to keep my attention on what’s important –my studies and cultural exchange– and it has helped me to easily navigate all the formalities of being an international student in the U.S.”
After completing his program, Caraballo hopes to spend a year working in a media company in the US in order to learn from the tradition of strong journalism in the country and focus on issues he’s passionate about: social justice, race, inequality, arts and culture. Once he returns to Colombia, it seems clear that he will bring a wealth of new skills and knowledge from his experiences both in and outside of the classroom.