"I am jealous of every one of you in this room", said Nick Tattersall, Managing News Editor for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Thomson Reuters. That was the start of the Future News Worldwide 2019 conference (FNW19), run by the British Council and held at the headquarters of Thomson Reuters in London. I, Laila Shoma, was the German delegate.
I had zipped up my bag and was heading to London, a place I had never been to before. It was a huge bag full of dreams, clothes, a winter jacket and sun cream – this was London after all.
I’m still in Europe, but everything is different, something I had not expected. It’s different from the adaptor I had forgotten to buy, to the cab, where I opened the driver’s door assuming it would be the passenger’s seat.
When I arrived, delegates from all over the world were already waiting and warmly welcoming me. The diversity cannot be imagined. There were delegates from Asia to South Africa. Despite our tiredness and an 18-hour journey for some, after spending ten minutes together we decided to head to Oxford Street. A day well spent.
Next morning, I met the others who had arrived late the day before. We ate breakfast and started our journey together touring London.
The dinner on 15 July was the highlight for me – eating my dinner in one of the biggest news agencies in the world, Thomson Reuters. Entering this place was a dream. I never imagined this might happen to me at just 21 years old. I wasn’t just eating; I was meeting and talking with experts from Thomson Reuters, BBC, Facebook, Instagram, Google News Initiative, The Herald, CNN, Sky, Time, New Delhi Television and HuffPost.
The next day, I packed my small bag, eager to know what was awaiting me – a lot, it turned out! We listened to speeches and workshops at Thomson Reuters’s headquarters. What I enjoyed most that day were Nick Tattersall’sspeech on media trust, Christina Lamb’s speech on her journeys around the world and the workshops that I took part in on Instagram and Facebook, Google News Initiative and news verification.
The next day was even better. We heard unforgettable speeches from BBC Africa Eye and Nadine White from HuffPost UK. As well as this, we had the great opportunity to talk to experts and ask them our questions. These incredible people were our mentors for the two days. They showed us how to start our careers and gave us insights into their life-long experiences.
The conference was long enough to hear a huge number of speeches, but time went by so quickly. I enjoyed every moment, starting from being the German representative and taking over the British Council Europe Instagram account, to talking to famous UK journalist Jon Snow (and learning that his daughter’s name is also Laila!), to the friendships and contacts I made there, which I hope will never fade.
Future News Worldwide is a partnership programme between the British Council and some of the world's leading media organisations. More than 3,000 young journalists applied to join the programme in 2019, and 100 students from 53 countries were accepted. Find out more at www.britishcouncil.org/future-news-worldwide.