Hiking with 50 pounds of camera gear, working many hours, and not having much sleep, Tyler Nagel was going non-stop for three weeks.
Nagel took the course Journalism in Conflict Zones at Athabasca University and found it surpassed his expectations.
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“It’s one of the best experiences I’ve had in my whole life,” said Nagel.
Nagel, who is finishing his bachelor of commerce degree at the university and is a journalism instructor at SAIT Polytechnic, feels other journalists would benefit from the course.
Nagel took the course when it first began last spring; it runs in conjunction with the war games the army conducts to prepare Canadian troops for Afghanistan.
“This is the most realistic operating environment that the Canadian Forces is able to create to train its troops to fight in Afghanistan,” said Nagel.
Nagel learned how to develop stories in a medium new to him — television reporting — and in a challenging atmosphere.
Developing his skills so he could have well-rounded experiences to bring to his students at SAIT was one of many motivating factors for Nagel.
“I just wanted to reinforce what an amazing job Dr. (Evelyn) Ellerman has done in arranging all of this,” said Nagel.
The course cost includes the flight to the base in Wainwright from Edmonton and food.
Because of the physical demand of the course, a doctor’s note is required before students are accepted into the program.
“Students, I’ve noticed, are extremely tired at the end of the three-week period,” said Dr. Evelyn Ellerman, associate professor, of communication studies at Athabasca University.
Putting in 18-hour days, chasing around the soldiers, and running up and down hills, a person needs to be in good health and physically fit for this course, Ellerman said.
A student who takes this course could expect a simulated environment that captures the essence of conflict zones.
The cost of the program is $638 and the next course is scheduled for the fall. The school hopes it will be available nationally soon.