An Indian journalist has spent two weeks at Bournemouth University after winning the Connect India Journalist of Change award.
The award, part of BU’s Connect India global outreach arm, recognised excellence in journalism that inspires social change.
Snigdha Poonam won the 2017 award for an article she wrote for the Huffington Post about young students taking their lives while studying for a competitive exam in the city of Kota.
“The fact that the competition was looking at journalism of change attracted me, because very few other awards do. There was also the opportunity to come here and interact with students and academics and to see the wider culture of the university,” said Snigdha, who now works for the Hindustan Times.
“It felt amazing to win, especially because it must have been so hard to choose just one entry because the shortlisted entries were all pieces of brave journalism and I admired all of them.
“I feel like this is a topic that is so disturbing – every year so many students commit suicide in this particular town in India where thousands show up every year to prepare for what must be the world’s toughest most competitive exams. The conditions in which they are made to prepare for this one exam are just extraordinary.”
Snigdha spent two weeks in Bournemouth as part of her prize, with a programme of activity that included meeting with BU students and lecturers and participating in sessions covering everything from investigative journalism to gender and sexuality, as well as sharing her own work.
She said: “This was my first time in Bournemouth and the university is a very vibrant space and I feel like I’ve met so many kinds of people.
“I’ve spoken about my work, my book and my journalism, which has been very interesting because I usually talk to people about my work who know a lot about India.
“There was so much curiosity from the students and the general audience here about what’s going on in India and what it means for the future of India and the world.
“So I did a bit of speaking, but I’ve also done a bit of listening, so that’s been really amazing.”
Snigdha added that she’d enjoyed spending time in Bournemouth – snow and all.
“Bournemouth itself is beautiful and I’ve really used the opportunity to be in the town and do Bournemouth things and spend time on the beach walking and reading. I’ve eaten a lot of fish and chips!
“One morning I woke up and there was sea in front of me surrounded by snow - I don’t think that’s a sight that I’m going to forget!
“Between the campus and the town, it’s been a very vibrant experience and a good fortnight well spent.”