They’ve worked with News Decoder for a year. Now students at a school in Romania have launched a magazine — a first in their city.
The cover of the second edition of “Transylvania Insights”
Inspired by their work with News Decoder, students at Transylvania College in Romania have launched a school magazine that explores international relations, politics, economics, human rights and culture.
Transylvania Insights is the brainchild of two students, Ioan Pristavu and Octavian-Anton Ghisa, and History teacher Vlad Ciurdar.
“We actually got inspired by News Decoder and the fact that we see journalists who are world renowned and who are taking this interest in adolescents putting journalism back on track,” Pristavu said, with a nod to News Decoder’s correspondents, who mentor students.
“Seeing people with such experience and seeing the resources that are offered to us students are all the inspiration one needs to start something of their own,” Pristavu said.
Students credit News Decoder for helping them launch magazine.
Pristavu has been a News Decoder Student Ambassador at Transylvania College this past year, and he and Ghisa appeared in a webinar on nationalism with students from The Thacher School in California in February.
“The need to give the students in our community a platform for expression and another opportunity to develop their skills should be a #1 priority for every school,” Pristavu wrote in the first edition, a 30-page magazine, in English and Romanian, that was launched in February at the school in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. It is the first student-led newspaper in the city.
A News Decoder partner since 2020, Transylvania College is the only international school in its region of Romania that is accredited by the Romanian Ministry of Education and which has also been awarded British School Overseas status by the UK Department of Education.
The first two editions of the student publication featured articles on the extreme-right National Rally party in France, Uighurs, Romas, the impact of COVID-19 on stock markets, social media and teenagers, racism in the UK’s royal family, Jainism, nanotechnology, Myanmar, Yemen and propaganda through grafitti.
Pristavu was named director of the magazine during his last year at Transylvania, while Ghisa was appointed deputy director during his second year of high school. Both credited News Decoder training, webinars and podcast advice with helping them to develop the school’s first student newspaper.
“We use News Decoder articles to see the language, the method, how others are writing, especially when it comes to other regions of the world, which can be seen in how they reflect on their cultures and mentalities,” Pristavu said.
“News Decoder is a compass of what we should become in watching how it promotes its ideals through its webinars, updates and articles.”
Students hope to partner with other schools in Romania.
Some 20 students have been working on the magazine, and the eventual aim is to forge partnerships with other schools in Romania and to launch a podcast.
“We wanted to create something real to instill values that are lacking in today’s society by encouraging the print medium for teenagers and allowing them to develop their intellectual capabilities,” Pristavu said.
Pristavu and Ghisa said among the challenges they face as editors is making sure articles are balanced and holding peers to deadlines. Many high school students are reluctant to try something new, Pristavu said.
“I encourage my peers to fight this fear of taking this risk of going out, trying something else, not focusing only on grades and academics but focusing on practical things,” he said.
Elisabeth Wachtel is an undergraduate student at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service who served as a News Decoder intern in 2021. In high school, Elisabeth spent a year abroad in Rennes, France, with the School Year Abroad program. She spent a semester studying at the American University of Paris during the coronavirus pandemic.