Living in a small town in Macedonia, Danche Azmanova knew from the age of 5 that she wanted to become a storyteller. Krenar Sadiku fell in love with journalism while watching his father, even though he adamantly discouraged his son from pursuing the same risky career. At receptions during the first week of training, Fellows talked about what inspired them to become journalists, some of the challenges they face in their home countries, and their hopes for the fellowship program.

During their introductions, Fellows explained their various motivations. They crave justice, strive to  give a voice to the underprivileged, and simply have a passion for storytelling

“I just wanted to chase stories constantly,” Farah Ajlouni of Jordan said.

While censorship, lack of media independence, and government intimidation create obstacles for many of the Fellows in their home countries, they have ambitious plans. They  hope this fellowship experience will give them the new skills and fresh outlook to spark real change in their home countries.

“We have a plan in the future to work with young students to help them gain more skills and … to be better than us, actually,” Aleksandra Denkovska-Gocevska said.