By Ida-Sofia Ääri
Students at London Metropolitan University have the opportunity to boost their employability by getting out of the classroom to gain real life experiences. For one group of aspiring journalists, this included a trip to Arsenal’s Emirates stadium.
For three years in a row, a trip to the Emirates has been a highlight for BA Journalism first-year students who, as part of the Reporting Skills module - a year-long core - learn interview skills while exploring new places and meeting different people.
And of course, everything they do has to be reported.
“Students love going on site visits outside of class because they mimic real-life situations that they will experience in the future when they will have to report on a wide variety of different events,” said senior lecturer in Journalism, Wendy Sloane.
"The stadium is truly beautiful, which is even more obvious when it's empty,” said Sloane, who organised the event together with senior lecturer Jude Rogers, also a tutor on the module.
“More importantly, it's great for London Met to set up a collaboration with Arsenal, as we are such close neighbours. They do a lot of fantastic work in the community and are an amazing resource.”
The stadium tour is guided by long time London Met partner Samir Singh, who runs the club's Arsenal in the Community projects. “Arsenal is for everyone,” said Singh, who says that the club has numerous commitments with the community. “It is not just about football here, we also want young people to get other learning and working opportunities.
“There are 16 different nationalities in the Arsenal team. It is just like that in the Islington area,” he said when explaining why the players are proud to be role models for the youth in such a diverse part of London. During annual charity days, Arsenal collects up to three-quarters of a million pounds for their community projects.
“I wasn’t expecting the stadium to be that big, powerful and colourful,” said Gabriela Gauza, a third-year journalism student originally from Brazil. “My favourite part of the stadium was the Arsenal changing rooms, where I got to take a picture next to Brazilian player Andre Santos’ shirt.”
The Reporting Skills module is different than other more theoretical classes in journalism. To the students it is a chance to visit places they would normally never visit themselves - and write about them. “It is very helpful and a lot more fun than sitting in class,” added Gauza.
“It's great getting on the streets and finding out stories, discovering something new and building relationships, as we never know when we are going to need them in the future. Keeping a good contact list of everyone you meet is essential.”
Since the module covers the whole of Islington, it is not all about Arsenal FC - even though many sport enthusiasts would love to think so. There is definitely something for everyone.
“Arsenal has, for obvious reasons, always been a favourite trip, although some Chelsea supporters were not best pleased,” said Sloane. “Our visit to a dog grooming studio called Glam Dogs was also a big hit, as was a recent trip to the Rowan Arts Centre, which is currently doing a comprehensive project on youth and religion.”
Other trips include a visit to Islington's own Freightliner Farm and the Esoterick Gallery. Guest speakers include Islington Tribune reporter Pavan Amara, long-term Holloway Road resident Lionel Jacobs, and David Gardner, who lost his leg in the 7/7 bombings.
Students have been required to write stories about all these events and speakers.
Gauza said: “It's a great opportunity to put in practice what we've learned in class. We get to develop our interview skills and meet all these interesting people. Also, we get to know about all kinds of events that take place within the borough of Islington.”
Ida-Sofia Ääri studies BA Journalism at London Metropolitan University.
3 January 2013