This month we are going to profile not one of our
producers, but two of our current interns, Gavin McCann and Chris Fisher.
Gavin and Chris both come to us from England and both
heard of RFPI through friends with connections to the station.
Chris was born in Leeds in the north of England and moved
around frequently, his father being a public servant with British Waterways. Settling in
London, he attended primary and secondary school before returning to Leeds to attend
university where he majored in English Literature and Language. While there, he joined the
OTC (Officers Training Corps), an organization in place "to educate students about
the Army and what it is there for," without pressing students into service, says
Chris. "You'd go away weekends and build bridges over rivers, and blow up cars and
things like that. It was hours of harmless fun!"
Gavin moved around Britain as well. But he settled in
Sheffield twelve years ago, later attending university in Bradford. It was there he
"began to realize what was going on around [him]." He took an active interest in
politics with his coursework opening an interest in the movement toward European
integration. This remains a strong interest for Gavin who hopes to work in that field in
Gavin learned about RFPI through a family friend who was
actively involved in the United Nations Association of Great Britain. Instead of going
straight on to a job after graduation from university, he decided to take some time off
"to really do something rather than go from school to university to a job for the
rest of my life."
Chris came to RFPI after learning of us through the late
Brigadier General Michael Harbottle, a member of RFPI's International Advisory Board. In
accordance with his interest in journalism, he was offered a choice between a radio
station in Czechoslovakia during the winter or one in Costa Rica in the summer. He chose
the obvious! The fact that RFPI was working for world peace just sweetened his interest.
How is life in Costa Rica? "It's interesting,"
laughs Chris. "The heat is incredible. Nothing could have prepared me for it. I knew
it was going to be hot, but I had no idea it would be this hot all the time. But I'm
settling down- I've lost two layers of skin so far (and three noses) and I will be tan by
the time I go back, I'm sure!" Another thing that impresses Chris about Costa Rica is
the friendliness of it's people. "I've not found yet anyone who's not been helpful,
friendly. Very, very friendly people." Gavin adds, "They don't seem to be
bothered if you can't grasp Spanish...they don't mind repeating five or six times! I think
that's what struck me more than anything." And the bugs, Gavin?? "I'm not really
getting along very well with the bugs! In Britain, everything seems to be a lot smaller.
There's nothing in Britain that can harm you. The spiders here are BIGGER, the bugs are
BIGGER, everything BIGGER!" Gavin tells the story of walking in the woods one day and
realizing a six-inch bug had attached itself to his shirtback. "I ended up taking my
shirt off and running around in circles whacking my shirt until I finally got it off. I've
never seen anything that big!" Turned out to be a praying mantis arguably one of
Natures scariest insects.
Turning to the subject of his overall experience at RFPI,
Gavin says he feels that as a result of working at RFPI, he's better informed and sees a
broader picture than before. "I've always felt my knowledge has been incomplete.
Hearing stuff about Che Guevara, The School of Assassins [School of the Americas],
Cassini- I'm just left astounded, really astounded by the things that go on that I've
never known about."
Since arriving at RFPI, Gavin has learned to "do the
Board," produce Dr. Manning Marable's commentaries, Along the Color Line, and
take over as producer of the Tropical Conservation Newsbureau Report.
Chris' responsibilities at RFPI include Board operator,
production of The Tico Times Report, and in the future the production of some RFPI
Reports. Also planned are research projects and reports on the activities of
militaries around the world.
What are some of Chris' favorite RFPI programs? "I do
like a lot of the media criticism [programs]. It interests me a great deal how the media
can manipulate words to mean different things, manipulate statistics to mean what they
want, or what the people behind them want." He adds, "It's incredible that
people won't actually pick up on this. That people are for whatever reason unable or
unwilling to read between the lines. For that reason I think programming like CounterSpin
which is one of my favorite programs is extremely valuable.
So what's next for these two talented and bright young
men? Gavin plans in the short term to "move out of his parents home, learn a bit more
Spanish and take part in politics writing his MPs and perhaps in the long-term become
involved in the support mechanism for the formation of the European Union.
Chris' future is "pretty much decided." After
leaving RFPI, he plans to enroll in the Royal Military Academy to train officers for the
British Army. "There's lots of reasons why I've chosen this course of action. One of
them is my contact with the British Forces through the Reserves. But there's a lot more to
it than that." Chris subscribes to the philosophy of General Harbottle that armies of
the world should move towards more peaceful endeavors toward disaster relief, for example.
"I think," says Chris, "one of the best ways of going about doing that is
from the inside rather than from the outside." He gives the example of having the
great desire to spend his four year military commitment in Bosnia or other war zone, to be
part of the peace process dismantling landmines, building hospitals, bridges, and
airports. After which, he will set his sights on becoming a war correspondent for a
progressive newspaper such as The Independent in Britain. This, once again, as a
contribution to peace by providing information the developed world has a right to know.
"The best way of countering irresponsible journalism," says Chris, "is to
provide responsible journalism oneself."
A great note to close on as we wrap up the profiles of
these two talented and outstanding human beings.