“Congrats, you have been selected from over 3,000 applicants and have placed yourself as one of the 100 delegates who will be attending the Future News Worldwide 2019 in London.”

I vividly remember the night I received this email from the British Council. I had a mixed feeling of joy and disbelief. As delighted as I was to have the opportunity, I felt a lot of self-doubt. I was haunted by the thought of ‘what if’, - what if my visa is not approved or my flight gets cancelled. But fortunately, things went well. I flew to London for the Future News Worldwide (FNW) 2019 conference, where at the immigration, we met Extra Blessing, a member of the British Council from Zimbabwe. He was there to pick us. As we waited for our cab, we introduced to each other. I told them I am a third-year undergraduate student from Kathmandu University and had just started my journalism career. 

“Everyone is so experienced here and are doing great in their field of journalism, I don’t know if I deserve the opportunity or not,” I added. 

From behind came the voice of Blessing, our British Council member, “Ishita! You have been selected from over 3000+ candidates, it’s not a lottery. They have seen something in you, you have a potential that’s why you are here. Embrace it.” I responded with a smile. It felt so good! It’s weird how we humans are. We seek confirmation about ourselves from others. 

Next morning, at breakfast, I met other delegates from different countries. A group of six of us from different countries roamed around London sharing our differences, similarities and even food. It didn’t feel we were meeting each other for the first time. The reception dinner in the evening at the Thomson Reuters Headquarter was equally overwhelming. Stepping into one of the most trusted media firms felt amazing!

Throughout the conference, I learned a lot from all the speakers. Nick Tattersall, Managing Editor News for EMEA, gave an awe-inspiring speech about how the world has become digitised. “There are no shortcuts, and it’s important to feel the story that you are reporting,” said Nick. As a journalist, I think it is one of the most essential traits to have. Compassion is important in anything we do.

The same day, I was one of the five delegates to visit the Facebook Headquarters in London. When Nick Warren, our host at the Headquarters said, “You aren’t a journalist if you don’t have questions for Facebook,” we began firing him with questions, and Nick had very compelling answers for all.

The workshop by Google News Initiative on using the available resources effectively and a networking dinner with Jon Snow a pioneer in the UK journalism scenario was a life-time experience. When I mentioned I was from Nepal, John kept his hand on heart and said, “Oh, Nepal! such a beautiful country, people, history and culture, I would love to visit and explore it someday.” I felt so proud of my country and in a way, it motivated me to become a responsible journalist of my country.

Day three at FNW was more intense, with speakers like Nadine White (HuffPost UK), Sonny Swe (Frontier, Myanmar) Aliaume Leroy and Benjamin Strick (BBC Africa Eye), everyone in the room were moved. These individuals had faced such challenges and threats, just because they were striving to expose the truth. Nadine White, being a woman of colour was able to bring out her stories and was able to publish it in such a huge news media. Aliaume Leroy and Benjamin Strick were examples of what hard work can do. It was so intriguing.

My trip in London ended with goodbyes and wishing each other with one sentence, “I hope our paths cross and we meet again.” On my way to the airport, I was so contended. The whole experience felt surreal.

Now, I am back in Kathmandu with my regular tasks and I can proudly say that I can relate my learning from the conference in my professional and personal life. I cannot thank enough to the British Council for this enlightening opportunity that I will cherish throughout my life.

Ishita Shahi is a Future News Worldwide 2019 participant from Nepal. She is currently pursing her bachelors in Media Studies at Kathmandu University, and is a correspondent for an independent digital media publication, The Record.

Future News Worldwide is a yearly conference organised for young journalists from all around the world. The application is opened during February/March every year.