I’m drawn to Martha Pskowski immediately. At first glance, she is quietly observational in the way that you can sense her presence even in the most unassuming situations. Nevertheless, despite her composure, she’s keenly aware of the power she wields as an independent journalist and Fulbright scholar with a background in environmental and development studies.
It’s this quality – her humble recognition that she’s capable of bringing valuable insight to the table – that has allowed her to thrive as a journalist working on community-based social and environmental issues in Latin America, where she has lived for the past five years.
Martha’s work as a Fulbright scholar researching REDD+ (a climate change program) in rural Mexico with indigenous communities is what propelled her into journalism in the first place.
“I wanted to continue researching environmental issues and immigration, but in a way that was more accessible. I really just enjoyed the feeling of writing things that people would actually read, which wasn’t always the case with academic research.”
As we talk about the realities and hazards inherent to being a freelance journalist, her hands wander to touch a fresh wound on her arm – a rope burn inflicted during the IWMF’s Hostile Environment training as she escaped from industrial-strength zip ties around her wrists. She’s highly aware of the risks and challenges she faces as a solo reporter working in complicated regions, but also of the immense personal and professional freedoms it affords.
“This Fellowship is a great opportunity to learn more about security, and also to have the resources and support to travel and report on these same issues that are occurring in other areas in this region I haven’t had a chance to go to yet.”
– Gena Steffens, Fall 2018 Guatemala Reporting Fellow