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Poland mission puts Primrose Hill graduate ahead of the journalism game

Local Camden resident Zlata Rodionova was among over 1,500 students who celebrated their graduation from City University London this week.
by Hollie Jenkins

However, it wasn't just completing her degree that Zlata was celebrating, she was also one of a few students who have already had their stories published by one of Poland's leading daily newspapers.

About a million foreign football fans and their families are expected to flood Poland in June 2012 for the Euro 2012 Championship. Zlata, who lives on King Henry's Road, was one of 21 students from City University London who was selected by Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's leading daily newspaper, to visit Poland one year before the country is due to host the championship and report on whether the country was ready for the event.

Originally from Russia, Zlata grew up in Luxemburg. She spent nine days in June in the small Polish town of Szczecin where she was given daily tasks related to testing the local transport systems, determining how friendly the locals were towards tourists and of course, sampling the local food.

She says: "We set off on a mission to find out whether Poland was ready for the influx of tourists expected when the Championship starts next year. It was really scary at first and I remember sitting on the train on the way to Szczecin wondering if I had made a big mistake - not a lot of people spoke English and I had never been to Poland before so it was hard to get around.

"However, in the end I discovered that unlike the drab grey town I expected, Szczecin had some amazing parks and green spaces, it was a really pleasant surprise.

"One of the things that I reported on was the fact that a lot of the Polish museums and historical attractions don't have English translations, which was a real shame - this is just one of the simple things that I hope will be addressed as a result of our visit."

Mission 21 was also an experiment in the use of social media as a journalistic platform. Zlata used Twitter, Facebook, a blog and YouTube to report on her findings and engage with her audience. During her visit Zlata received feedback and comments from Polish locals and she says that by the end of her nine days she felt famous in the small town.

"I would be sitting down to have breakfast and see people around me reading the paper which had my picture in it, it was actually quite surreal."
Zlata is now planning to pursue a journalism career. She hopes that graduating from City having already been sent on an overseas reporting mission will help her stand out from the crowd when she starts looking for a job.

"It was always my dream to study in London. Studying journalism at City was a great start to my career, all the lecturers have impressive professional backgrounds and now with my experience in Poland I hope I'll be ahead of the game when I start looking for a job."

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