CORVALLIS - The editor of Oregon State University's student newspaper is one of only eight student editors nationwide selected by the Anti-Defamation League for an August study mission to Poland, Bulgaria and Israel designed to help students better understand the conflicts in the Middle East.
Allison Pyburn, a native of Albany, will fly out of New York City Aug. 4 as part of the 15-day Albert Finkelstein Memorial Study Mission sponsored by the ADL. From New York, the group will travel to Warsaw, Krakow, Sofia, Tel Aviv, upper Galilee and Jerusalem.
"We will visit historic and religious sites in the areas, and meet with decision-makers on both sides of the political spectrum," Pyburn said. "I will also meet with citizens, students and local and foreign reporters, allowing for insight into the everyday lives of those affected by the current situation in the Middle East."
The mission includes eight students and nine ADL staff members from around the country. All 17 participants will travel, stay, dine, learn, and tour together from start to finish. The leader of the mission is Kenneth Jacobson, who serves as ADL's senior associate national director and is its director of international affairs. All expenses are paid by the ADL.
"It's amazing to think she is one of only eight campus newspaper editors in the country selected for the mission, which is oriented heavily toward Ivy League schools like Harvard and Yale," said Frank Ragulsky, director of university student media at OSU. "There have historically been very few students chosen from state schools, let alone state schools on the West Coast."
Students from Swarthmore, Syracuse, Wayne State, Texas A&M, the University of Michigan, Harvard and the University of California at Irvine will attend this year's mission.
"The complexity of the issues in the Middle East and the challenge of reporting on those issues is why ADL is helping to provide our future journalists with this experience," said Howard P. Berkowitz, ADL national chairman. He said participants gain a better understanding of modern Jewish history, the struggle for peace in the Middle East and the concerns of ordinary Israelis.
The mission is made possible by a gift from Bidi Finkelstein, a Philadelphia and Palm Beach philanthropist and honorary life member of the ADL National Commission. She established the program in memory of her late husband, who initially conceived the idea of the study mission.
Pyburn is working this summer at the Statesman Journal newspaper in Salem as part of the Charles P. Snowden Internship Scholarship Program. A senior in English literature, Pyburn began serving as the editor for The Daily Barometer at OSU in April. The Barometer is a self-sufficient, student-run newspaper with a circulation of 10,000 and an editorial staff of more than 50 people.
In May, Pyburn earned the First Freedom Award for protection of first amendment rights from the Northwest Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. The Oregon Newspaper Publisher's Association also honored her this year for her news writing.