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International WSP Student Recalls Covering the Election in DC

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A young many poses without smiling in front of a brick wall.
Courtesy of Christian Schweppe

Christian Schweppe is an international student from Germany who attended the Washington Semester Program from August to December of 2015. Because his home school, the University of Eichstätt, requires students to spend a semester abroad, he chose the Washington Semester Program and its Journalism & New Media Concentration to further his skill sets and set him on the right track toward professional success.

His Washington Semester Program internship helped him land a fall semester internship with ARD German TV, covering the US presidential election. He shot and produced video in Pennsylvania on Trump supporters living in the Rust Belt and he worked on a special program that aired globally on the eve of election day. Christian was asked to work on the historic 2016 presidential election because of his experience at ARD German TV in 2015, as an intern with the Washington Semester Program.

"It seemed unique to me how WSP brings together young people from all over the world for one semester," said Schweppe. "Also, the program allowed me to combine further education in journalism with working in the field."

Even before coming to Washington, Schweppe already had work experience in the journalism field that prepared him for the fun and success he experienced through WSP. At the age of 16, he wrote for a local newspaper in western Germany. While attending university, he also worked part-time and published for regional and national newspapers. By the time he started the Washington Semester Program, he was able to bring his know-how and journalistic experiences to the table when he networked with journalists and visited American newsrooms "I learned how Washington really works and how journalists interpret their roles in this unique microcosm of politics and world history," said Christian. "Especially, we talked a lot with several senior reporters on what it is like to cover national politics and the White House."

One professor that really impacted Schweppe's experience was Professor Gil Klein. The two still keep in touch over social media, which is how Professor Klein stays in contact with many of his international students. Christian noted that one of the most inspiring things about Professor Klein is his meaningful connections with dozens of reporters around in DC. Professor Klein's connections have undoubtedly helped connect many students with journalists in DC and around the world.." [Professor Gil Klein] really took us around. We visited lots of great journalists and media outlets including Politico, CNN, and the Washington Post," Schweppe remembers. He also added that Klein took students to the National Press Club on a regular basis. After his time with the Washington Semester Program, Schweppe completed two more internships in Hamburg with Der Spiegel and Stern magazine. He mentioned that interest in the 2016 U.S. presidential election was enormous in Europe and that his experience in Washington has been helpful throughout his career. Since Schweppe gained first-hand experience on election coverage for a major news organization during the U.S. presidential election, he feels more than prepared to cover Germany's elections this September 2017.

"The Washington Semester Program helped me to take the time to think about what I want to achieve and how to do it," said Schweppe. "[This program] demands self-reflection and offers orientation. This is why I would recommend to every international student: come to AU for one semester and make the most of it. Plus, Washington is an international hotspot for politicians and journalists, which was very attractive to me. - DC is the place to be for young professionals!"