In March, Daria Petrova was preparing for her final exams and was getting ready to defend her Bachelor’s thesis. In addition to being a full-time student at the Journalism Department of Novosibirsk State University, Daria is the editor-in-chief of Gornostay TV, the high school TV studio of Gymnasium #6 in Novosibirsk. Under pressure from her scholastic duties, she had been hoping for a reprieve from her duties at Gornostay TV, but Daria’s hopes for a quiet exam period were dashed when she received an email newsletter from the organizers of the Volga Encounters Youth Media Festival. In her inbox, she saw an invitation to submit a 30-second video to the US-Russia Social Expertise Exchange, with the prospect of winning a trip to the United States. Having celebrated its 10th anniversary earlier that month, Gornostay TV studio had the experience and tools to produce a video for the competition. The one thing the studio didn’t have was time: there were only two weeks until the competition’s deadline.
Daria, along with four high school students Alexander Lozovskiy, Karina Korzhikova, Alina Batanova, and Margarita Gromozdina, had started working on the application for the competition. They held two meetings, developed a concept for their video, recorded the material, and began editing.
“It was the editing that took the most time,” said Alexander. “It was not easy to create a 30-second video communicating our idea . . . [The video] would be either 5 seconds shorter or 5 seconds longer, so we had to do a lot of cutting.” Even with the materials completed and submitted on time, the students were not certain whether they would be able to participate in the project.
"First, when we filmed and submitted the video, we were told that we would still not be able to go [to the Volga Encounters festival] because Daria had to take exams. I was upset and thought ‘well, what would this win give us if we're not going anywhere anyway?' Karina stated." I had lost hope and even forgot about the competition for a while."
However, a few weeks later, the students of Gornostay TV experienced the joy of victory. They barely could wrap their heads around the idea that they had managed to win. Daria learned about the team’s triumph in the early morning while checking her e-mail, and promptly shared the happy news with her colleagues.
“When I received a message from Daria that we had won, I immediately called my dad,” recalls Karina. “My father better understood how important this news was – more so than I did. He was initially happier than I was about it - I just couldn’t believe that we had won.”
After they were officially announced as the Russia-side anchors of the US-Russia Youth TV Bridge (YTVB) for the second season, the students from Novosibirsk were set to attend the Volga Encounters festival in Cheboksary. These young journalists could not miss this opportunity, so before heading out, Daria gathered books to study for her final exams while on the train to Chuvashia. At the festival, the team of Gornostay TV met their American counterparts from Illinois’ Geneva TV (GTV), with whom they will co-produce the second season of YTVB. (Learn more about the GTV students’ journey to join the YTVB anchor team here).
During the Volga Encounters festival, the Russian participants of YTVB discovered that a passion for television journalism is not the only thing that they have in common with their American colleagues. “The GTV team has many cinema buffs, which is a huge plus,” – said Alexander, who would like to work in cinematography in the future. “For example, when I met Jacob [one of the participants of YTVB from the American side], I was surprised how similar we are. We have started working on video production identically . . . [In general, the TV industry] in different countries has its own idiosyncrasies, and it can be completely different or partially similar. It would be interesting to learn about these differences [during our work with the Americans], and, thus, to gain all-round skills and experience,” shared Alexander.
The high school students from Novosibirsk are confident that these experiences will be formative and useful in their futures. For instance, Margarita would like to become a psychologist, and works at the Gornostay TV studio specifically for this reason: “I believe that it is crucial to gain journalistic experience in order to better understand people. People are different in America, they have a different disposition. If I am able to have this experience communicating with them, I will be able see the differences and similarities that exist between us.”
The only possible impediment to their work – the language barrier – is not something the students from Novosibirsk are particularly worried about. Almost all the Russian participants are fluent in English, and those who might have some difficulties understanding the English native speakers are going to take a few lessons with a tutor this summer. Even while still acting as editor-in-chief of Gornostay TV, Daria finished her final exams with straight As and received a diploma with honors. She says Gornostay TV is writing a new – international – chapter of its history thanks to the participation in the Youth TV Bridge. Creativity indeed knows no bounds, and the teams from Novosibirsk and Illinois are ready to prove it.