She has written two articles and is organizing a webinar on nationalism. Student Ambassador Christina MacCorkle is now Decoder in the Spotlight.

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Christina MacCorkle jumped at the chance to ask a question of two guest experts at a recent News Decoder webinar on the U.S. presidency.

“Can you share your insights on the significance of Reagan’s ‘Shining City on a Hill’ speech, specifically when Reagan juxtaposed American exceptionalism with the Communist threats of the time?” she asked, referring to former President Ronald Reagan’s penchant for comparing the United States to “a shining city on a hill.”

“Do you think that was more of a historical truth or was that more rhetorical strategy? And how has that strategy changed since the Cold War?”

Not many high school students are interested in a president who was in office a generation ago — and even less so in the leader’s rhetoric — but MacCorkle, in her third year at The Thacher School in California, stands out among peers. Now she has a Decoder in the Spotlight award as a new feather in her cap.

MacCorkle has written two articles for News Decoder — one on how youth are coping with COVID-19, the other on how a pro-democracy protest movement in South Korea half a century ago offers lessons to two social movements in the United States today.

A Student Ambassador at her U.S. boarding school, MacCorkle is a member of the team working with News Decoder partner school Transylvania College in Romania on a webinar focusing on nationalism.

Asked what lessons she had learned in her work with News Decoder, MacCorkle summed up so much of what we are trying to teach: “It’s taught me to be prompt, to be clear and concise in my writing and to recognize that obtaining good sources is key to crafting a good article.”

Decoders in the Spotlight stand out in a crowd.

We asked MacCorkle about her work with News Decoder and future plans.

ND: Tell us about the two stories you’ve written for News Decoder. How did you choose the topics? And what were the experiences like?

MacCorkle: The first article I wrote for News Decoder was about how young people from various countries were faring during quarantine. I chose this topic because I had access to these sources — they were my friends. The second article I wrote was about how South Korea 50 years ago offers lessons for social movements in the U.S. What led me to choose this topic was a Modern Korean History course I enjoyed last year, taught by a visiting professor from Yonsei University. I think having the experience of writing that first article about something more casual was really great practice for taking on a more serious topic later on.

ND: What does it mean to you to be a Student Ambassador?

MacCorkle: In addition to fostering my interest in journalism, being a Student Ambassador has allowed me to participate in News Decoder’s international community. Whether that takes the form of reading other students’ stories or seeing students across three continents gathered together for a webinar, it’s been inspiring.

‘Good sources are key to a good article.’ — Christina MacCorkle

ND: What are the main things you’ve learned engaging with News Decoder?

MacCorkle: I’m grateful for the valuable experience of having my work reviewed and edited by professional journalists. It’s taught me to be prompt, to be clear and concise in my writing, and to recognize that obtaining good sources is key to crafting a good article.

ND: What is the theme of your webinar this year, and how are you preparing for it?

MacCorkle: The theme of our webinar with one of News Decoder’s partner schools, Transylvania College, is nationalism. We at Thacher are focusing on how nationalism has impacted climate change, while students in Romania explore how nationalism has impacted European disintegration. The team at Thacher has been interviewing representatives of environmental agencies, political groups, and local farmers to gather a variety of perspectives on the complex issue. I’m really excited for the conversations we’ll have during the webinar in February!

ND: Do you have any idea what you’d like to study at university? And when you think about careers, what comes to mind and why?

MacCorkle: I’ll definitely study something in the social sciences, possibly History or East Asian Studies. When I was younger, I really wanted to be a graphic designer, but now I’d like to go into journalism or international affairs. These careers come to mind partly because of my desire to keep writing and to stay engaged in current events.

 (Nelson Graves is the founder of News Decoder.)

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News Decoder Updates Decoder Spotlight: Christina MacCorkle of The Thacher School