At the time of her interview, Romina Van Camp celebrated 10 years at the commercial broadcasting network VTM. As a journalist working on the foreign news desk, she travels all over the world to cover stories abroad. A curious and determined person, Romina is perfect for her job and for an IVLP. “I was so grateful to participate in that program and I kind of feel like I have to live up to that, to what I learned there, and try to pass it on.”
Every year nearly 5,000 exchange emerging leaders participate in the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) to experience the United States firsthand. These exchanges allow participants to cultivate lasting relationships with their American counterparts across a wide variety of fields.
Romina was selected to join the IVLP program on ‘Current U.S. social, political, and economic issues for young European leaders.’ “When I read the leaflet of the program, I was like young European leaders… do they see me as a young European leader? So I felt really privileged and until today I’m still very grateful that I was selected for that program,” she reveals.
The IVLP program focused on the 2016 elections. As it was the first time Romina covered the U.S. presidential elections, she was happy with both the topic and the timing: “The program for me couldn’t be timed more perfectly, because it was planned in September/October, a month or two before the U.S. presidential elections. We spoke to a professor at George Mason University about the elections, we spoke to several Democrat and Republic voters… it was great to get more insights and information about that.”
As a journalist, Romina`s most important job is to create awareness and to inform people about current events. However, she sometimes questions herself and wonders if she does enough. “When I’m in the field as a journalist, my main job is to create awareness, to inform people to make sure they get the right information. I think that is more important than ever now,” she tells us. “But I always have this feeling like… is it enough what I do there? Do I contribute enough? How can I make a bigger difference than what I do now as a journalist? I struggle with that sometimes.”
It comes as no surprise that Romina thinks you have to stand up for what you believe in and you don`t have to follow the herd all the time. “Speak up and don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not good enough or that something can`t be done. I believe in a combination of talent and hard work. If you’re willing to work and if you work hard enough I think you can achieve anything you want. It are the ones that stick out and speak up that will be remembered.”
“Don't follow the herd all the time and stand up for what you believe in.”
Romina travels a lot for work and pleasure, so she`s not really attached to four walls. “I think I can, you know, live anywhere I want if just I can make myself at home and have a place that I can make my own,” she says. “Of course you want to live in a nice and beautiful place, but just create your own home in the house where you are and anywhere in the world and I think you can feel at home.”
The IVLP gave Romina important insights into how the United States and its institutions work. “Because we also spoke, during that program, with several think tanks, conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and it’s always hard to understand how they think or what they stand for, what they believe in, but talking with them and hearing their arguments, it kind of makes you understand their way of thinking. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you agree with them, but it puts things in perspective. And, because as a foreign journalist, it’s not really easy to get access to those institutes or think tanks,” she explains.
But she also got a view of the complexity and diversity of American society: “We traveled several states and that was really a great experience to see just the differences between different states and the way people think and the way people feel.”
Moreover, knowing all this helps her in her work as a journalist. “I take that with me when I go back to the United States covering some stories or I take that with me when I’m reading articles in the U.S. media and I see names of think tanks appearing.” she says.
“It was a great experience to see the differences between different states and the way people think and the way people feel.”