The Foreign Press Association 2009 Scholarship Winners were ANDRES BERMUDEZ LIEVANO(1ST) from Colombia, SIMON AKAM (2ND) from England, and DAMIANO BELTRAMI (3RD) from Italy.
ANDRES BERMUDEZ LIEVANO(1ST)
Andrés Bermúdez Liévano has had itchy feet since he was young. When other children dreamed of growing up to be doctors and pilots, he planned on becoming an ambassador, just so he could travel the world. His favorite books were The Adventures of Tintin, which would anticipate his decision of becoming a journalist.
Born and raised in Colombia, Andrés has long had an interest in literature, photography, cinema and art. He studied Latin American literature at the Universidad de los Andes, in Colombia, and is keen on languages, having spent time studying English, French, Italian and Czech. A backpacker at heart, Andrés worked as an English literature teacher at a high school in Bogota for a year and a half, taking advantage of the seemingly tailor-made holidays to travel around South America. Although he really enjoyed teaching 15-18 year olds, he eventually grew tired of having his feet stuck in the same city for such a long time.
Andrés then embarked on a trip to South Africa to fulfil a longtime dream: to volunteer there. He soon found it was a very romantic and idealistic illusion, but it led to a life-changing experience working for three months with Ikamva Labantu, a non-profit organization in Cape Town. There he conducted the research and evaluation of a pilot project aimed to improve the quality of life of children affected by HIV/AIDS in the township of Philippi East.
He is currently finishing his master’s in journalism at Columbia, and would like to work in Latin America.
SIMON AKAM (2ND)
I was born in Cambridge, England. After leaving the Perse School I held a British Army Gap Year Commission in The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. I then read English Literature at Oxford University, where I edited The Oxford Student and traveled widely in Europe and Africa.
After graduating from Oxford I moved to the Middle East, where I studied Arabic and freelanced in the Egyptian capital Cairo. I covered stories including the dangers of unexploded Second World War land mines in the Western Desert, the decay of Egypt’s European architecture, and the rehabilitation of the Sinai Peninsula.
While in Egypt I applied for and won the Fulbright Alistair Cooke Memorial Scholarship. Named after the famous BBC broadcaster, each year the award sends a British journalist to study in the United States.
I moved to New York City in July 2008 and enrolled at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. While at Columbia I won scholarships from the Overseas Press Club Foundation and the Hugh Fulton Byas Foundation alongside the Foreign Press Association award.
I am currently interning at the New York Times alongside my studies, and will head to Turkey and an internship with Reuters in Istanbul after finishing my course in New York. My writing and photography have appeared in publications including the Guardian, the Financial Times, the New Statesman, and Tatler. I speak German and Arabic and enjoy riding and ski mountaineering.
DAMIANO BELTRAMI (3RD)
I was born in Genoa, Italy in 1982. I studied translation (English/Spanish/Italian) at IULM University in Milan and earned my master’s in English and Applied Linguistics from Cambridge University, Darwin College.
After graduating in 2005, rather than staying in academia, I moved back to Italy to treat my “journopathy”, my insane love for reporting. Lucky enough, I got into the legendary Carlo De Martino journalism school in Milan, and the following summer I started collaborating with Il Sole-24 Ore, the leading economic newspaper. From the Milan office I covered Middle Eastern affairs and the Iraqi conflict, availing myself of multimedia information sources (blogs and video-sharing websites) and syndicated news feeds, while constantly liaising with local contributors.
After a few reports from Northern India and Eastern Europe, I applied for and won a Fulbright scholarship that enables me to study interactive journalism in the United States. I moved to New York City in August 2008 and I am now enrolled in the City University Graduate School of Journalism.
I cover New York and international stories including the U.S. elections, human trafficking, Iraqi refugees in New York, and how small businesses in the Bronx find creative solutions to deal with the economic crisis.
My stories and multimedia packages have appeared in publications and websites including The Daily News, the website of the United Nations Association USA, I-Italy.org and Il Sole- 24Ore.