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The Statesman

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    Huang Showcases Photographs and Stories From Kosovo

    A young Romanian girl was transferred to a hospital in Belgrade for a particular surgery in the late 1990’s. But upon arriving, she found herself embroiled in the Kosovo Conflict, her life threatened by bombings nearby. Her story might have been lost to the world, but Wen Huang, a Chinese photojournalist, was there to cover the war and captured the girl’s face on film.

    On Oct. 10th, Huang showcased this photograph and many others to several students and faculty at Stony Brook University. She was the latest guest-and the first photojournalist-in the school of journalism’s ‘My Life As’hellip;’ lecture series.

    Huang works for the Xinhua News Agency in China, one of the largest news agencies in the world with over 40,000 employees operating in 110 offices worldwide.

    From March 1997 to May 1999, Huang was embedded in Yugoslavia to cover the Kosovo conflict. She spoke mostly of the experience she gained in covering a war. ‘When you see human suffering, you will never be a simple observer,’ Huang said. ‘The uncertainty of the surroundings during war time is scary,’ she confessed.

    Huang also spoke of what it takes to be a photojournalist. A journalist’s job is ‘not to become a member of [the culture],’ she said, ‘ but to be fair to them.’

    At the start of the Kosovo War, Huang and other reporters from Xinhua were the only journalists to remain in the city of Pristina after the first round of bombings began. The photographs she displayed were mostly depictions of the hardships faced by the people of Kosovo and the destruction of buildings and life as usual.

    Huang’s photographs from her time in the Balkans have all been published, she says, mostly in China through the Xinhua news wire. But some have been widely circulated and published in other countries, including here in the US in Time Magazine.

    ‘It was my big dream to be published in Time Magazine,’ recalled Huang. But when Time published a photograph of her friend who had been killed in a NATO bombing, Huang said that she ‘didn’t think it would be in [those] circumstances.’

    The bombing, in May 1998, changed her view of the United States for a long time, she said. ‘In the Chinese language, we interpret the United States’hellip;in a very beautiful way,’ she said, referring to the direct translation of the word ‘America’ into Chinese. ‘I had a lot of good impressions of [the United States].’ But after the bombing, which killed three Chinese journalists including a friend, she ‘couldn’t understand why a country like the US would do this to [her] colleagues.’

    She was awarded a scholarship from the Knight Foundation in 2002 however, and after she studied at Stanford University for a year, she said her opinion of the United States and Americans improved. ‘Its such a precious way to get to know a place’ she said, ‘instead of listening to what other people are saying.’

    Huang has been a photojournalist for 16 years. Most of that time was spent in Beijing, interrupted by a two year period when she was based in Germany as well as her time in the Balkans.

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