July 23, 2019 | 71° F

VOTE YES: Targum can take you as far as Madagascar


Never underestimate the places you’ll go after working for The Daily Targum. The hands-on experience can get you far in life — trust me, I’m writing this from Madagascar.

Upon arriving to my village in the Deep South of Madagascar as a Peace Corps volunteer, I immediately met with the community leaders and officials. In the following weeks, I became familiar with the women selling fresh vegetables at the market, the teachers at the schools, the drivers at the taxi brousse station and my neighbors. In such an environment where everything around me was new and unfamiliar, each day was filled with questions. Before I could begin to work toward improving this community, I had a lot to discover about its people and culture. Where do the kids like to hang out? What are the existing gender roles? What are the most popular occupations? What religion do they practice? What resources are available for students?

Peace Corps calls it “community mapping.” Journalists call it “getting the facts.” Before we write a story, we need all angles of the story. Much like a journalist, I needed to gain perspectives from each corner of the community to assess its needs and prioritize them. While I didn’t know it at the time, much of what I learned at the Targum could apply to my work as a Peace Corps volunteer on the world’s fourth-largest island.

There are no newspapers in my town. Most people do not have electricity and those that do rely on windmills for power only have a few hours a day. We most certainly do not have strict daily deadlines and we do not need to worry about any servers crashing minutes before the paper must be sent to the printer. While my past and current worlds could not be more different, I still feel my experience at the Targum empowered me with the skills necessary to work among my neighbors in a Malagasy village. The perpetually curious mind of a journalist can never go wasted in this world, no matter where you find yourself. Being detail-oriented can lead you to enlightening discoveries. And working late into the night with your staff, including many that will become lifelong friends and teach you lessons of teamwork, solidarity and perseverance.

I wouldn’t be writing this letter 8,700 miles from my alma mater, in a tiny village in the Deep South of Madagascar with limited Internet access, if I didn’t believe that the opportunities the Targum gave me led to where I am today. My decision to step into the Targum newsroom is one I will never regret for the real-life skills I gained while working there. To ensure that future Scarlet Knights for years to come have the same opportunity, please support the referendum and vote "yes."

Olivia Prentzel is a former managing editor, design editor and editorial assistant for The Daily Targum. She is School of Arts and Sciences Class of 2013 alumna.

YOUR VOICE | The Daily Targum welcomes submissions from all readers. Due to space limitations in our print newspaper, letters to the editor must not exceed 500 words. Guest columns and commentaries must be between 700 and 850 words. All authors must include their name, phone number, class year and college affiliation or department to be considered for publication. Please submit via email to oped@dailytargum.com by 4 p.m. to be considered for the following day’s publication. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

Olivia Prentzel

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