My name is Surya Jonckheere, 26, from Belgium. As a graduate in International Journalism from the University of Central Lancashire, I never thought I'd end up making special effects in the cinema industry. That said, it is not what I want to do in the long term.
What I'm really passionate about is social issues, uncovering deep injustices, opening my big mouth and giving my opinion whether people like it or not. I'm also a grammar nazi.
Reporting conflicts from the inside, confronting the sanitised language of various Governments, getting into Gaza or Damascus, filming raging stone throwers – this is how I see my future… My aim is to give a voice to the people affected by these conflicts who are often forgotten by the media. But the truth is, I don't even need to go that far to find people who are overlooked. There are so many untold stories right around the corner of my street so if that is where I need to start, that is gladly where I'll start.
I briefly worked at the Times of Israel, based in Jerusalem, as a translator and editor to help launch the French version of the website. After I left I was able to cover the attack at the Jewish Museum of Belgium. My photos ended up being used for a Jewish lawyers' magazine.
My previous experiences include a month internship at the Times of India Crest Edition in Delhi and a yearlong weekly contribution in the Lancashire evening post in the form of a business reporting campaign. The campaign, which aimed to raise awareness about the difficulties local businesses face, received praise from David Cameron. I also briefly took the role of Features Editor at my university’s student union newspaper.
Through my previous experience, I have acquired valuable skills and gained knowledge that I have been able to use in both my personal and professional life. Time at different newspapers, print as well as online, enabled me to sharpen my writing, reporting and interviewing skills. I’ve also learnt sub-editing and proofreading.
Through travels from a young age I became more interested in the wider picture – not just the scenery, but what makes a country, its politics, religious influences, its history. The European School, which I attended in Brussels, provided the opportunity to learn several languages, enabling me to communicate and make useful contacts. It developed my capability and curiosity in learning more: I took courses in Hebrew, Arabic, Arabic History and Contemporary Society and am currently learning Modern Greek.
As a junior fencing coach I learnt patience and to work under stress, whilst volunteering in a school in Zambia and in a soup kitchen in the UK, I enjoyed the teamwork, commitment and seeing a project through.
Understanding organisation is important in many situations, I also believe in spontaneity and in taking advantage of unexpected opportunities.