About Rebecca Palmstrom
From performing in a political theatre company in Tokyo to interviewing internally displaced women in the Caucasus, Becky has always been fascinated in how storytelling can help build peace.
She left Wales at 18 to spend a year working and traveling in Ecuador and South America, before returning to the United Kingdom to pursue a Masters in International Relations at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. She has worked for Talk Radio News Service in Washington DC and CNN in the UK. As a Daiwa Anglo Japanese scholar she spent nearly two years studying and working at one of the main newspapers in Japan, before a brief stint with Save the Children’s emergency relief team in Bangladesh.
She spent a year and a half writing for a newspaper in Myanmar (Burma) covering the humanitarian relief efforts after Cyclone Nargis, which hit the country two weeks after she arrived.
Over time her conception of peace has become more complicated. She ran a participatory video project in a refugee camp in Kenya summer 2010. It confirmed her passion for genuine citizen journalism.
Becky is now back in South East Asia freelancing radio pieces and helping produce a youth radio show for BBC Media Action.
- None, University of Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
- July 2009 - June 2010
- Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance with Medicins San Frontieres.
- None, The Tokyo School of the Japanese Language, Tokyo, Japan
- September 2006 - April 2008
- A 20 month graduate placement sponsored by the Daiwa, Anglo-Japanese Foundation. Spent twelve months studying the Japanese language and six months working in Japanese organizations and companies as part of a program that encourages international understanding between Japan and the UK, by annually sending eight scholars to Japan.
- Masters of Arts, University of St Andrews, Scotland, U.K.
- September 2002 - June 2006
- Considered by many to be one of the top departments in Europe for the study of International Relations. Scottish MA Honors in International Relations, classification: First. Masters thesis: Is a gender sensitive analysis useful in understanding new wars? Georgia and Abkhazia, a case study.
- Censorship in Burma: ‘one cage opens’ but caution remains
- BBC College of Journalism
- Once infamous for locking up journalists, bloggers and poets, Burma has seen unprecedented new media freedom, but more reform is needed.
- Protests Over Mining Site Test Myanmar Reforms
- BBC World Service and Public Radio International's "The World"
- A violent crackdown on a peaceful protest in Myanmar raised questions about how committed Burmese authorities are to real democratic reform. Reporter Becky Palmstrom visited the city of Monywa, the site of the protest over a copper mining project.
- Awaiting President Obama in Myanmar
- Public Radio International (PRI) and BBC World Service, "The World"
- President Obama is due to visit Myanmar (also known as Burma) on Monday. It’s a sign of how far the Asian country has come on reform in the past few years. Many Burmese are welcoming Obama’s visit, including young people who are studying the American system of government. Becky Palmstrom spoke with some of them at a campus in Yangon.
- Myanmar braces for KFC
- The Wall Street Journal
- The monsoon rainstorm has exhausted itself, which is handy, because like most food outlets in Myanmar, Maung Aye’s teashop is open to the elements. The samosas are still steaming, freshly plucked from a vat of hot oil, and the condensed milk tea is so sweet and thick that Coca-Cola seems almost healthy in comparison. Yet one patron, Sandar Win, is thinking about treats that are decidedly less exotic, at least in most parts of the world: Western fast food.
- Taung Byone Festival Gives Myanmar’s LGBT Community Rare Opportunity to Openly Celebrate
- BBC and PRI's The World
- In Myanmar, it’s illegal for men to have sex with other men. There are no gay bars or openly gay celebrities. But for one week each year, in a small village called Taung Byone, thousands of gay and transgender people congregate and celebrate freely. It happens at one of Myanmar’s largest spirit or “nat” festivals.
- Illegal Fishing, Molotov Cocktails, A Daring Escape
- National Public Radio (NPR)
- The State Department on Tuesday cited abuses in Thailand's huge fishing industry as part of an annual worldwide report on Trafficking in Persons. The report noted that men from Cambodia and Myanmar, also known as Burma, are trafficked aboard Thai ships and forced to work against their will. They include men like Vannak Prum, a Cambodian who spent three years on such a boat. Prum was among those honored at the State Department on Tuesday.
- Confined To A Thai Fishing Boat, For Three Years
- National Public Radio (NPR)
- Thailand supplies a large portion of America's seafood. But Thailand's giant fishing fleet is chronically short of up to 60,000 fishermen per year, leaving captains scrambling to find crew. Human traffickers have stepped in, selling captives from Cambodia and Myanmar to the captains for a few hundred dollars each. Once at sea, the men often go months, or even years, without setting foot on land.
- Data Entry By Day, Theater By Night
- The California Report
- In another of our occasional series on volunteers in California, we meet a data entry specialist who volunteers with a community theater called the Actors Ensemble of Berkeley.
- In Northern Kenyan refugee camp, Ethiopian single mom finds her strength
- Deutsche Welle Radio & KALW Cross Currents
- Seventy-five thousand refugees moved to the U.S. in 2009, many settling here in the Bay to make a new life in America. But, before they arrive, here many lived in refugee camps for years. Some refugees spend their entire life in camps that were meant to be temporary. Becky Palmstrom visited one such refugee camp in northern Kenya, and she’s been bringing us stories from the crowded makeshift community – at least 50,000 people live in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Northern Kenya. That’s where Palmstrom met a young woman from Ethiopia, named Sadia Happi. Happi has been in the camp for almost three years now, and she’s only 19 years old, but she’s already become a community leader among the Oromo – a tribal group from Ethiopia.
- Anatomy of a Temporary Country
- New Internationalist
- Anatomy of a Temporary Country is an eight-part series which tells stories from the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. Act One: Sanitary pads in purgatory is the first part of this series.
- A Day In The Life - With Interest
- The New Internationalist
- As Burma’s people go to the polls this month, in an election unlikely to change decades of military rule, Becky Palmstrom, class 2011, looks at how the urban poor survive in a country without working banks. Published in the New Internationalist.
- Sexual Violence Rife At South African Border
- Gender Links
- Unlike schools in South Africa, the criminal gangs along the border between the World Cup hosts and Zimbabwe did not take a break because of a sports tournament. As foreign fans flocked to the first African World Cup, along the border another influx of foreigners got a different welcome. Becky Palmstrom, class 2011, reported on the systematic sexual violence these foreigners faced as they arrived from Zimbabwe.
- Rotary World Peace Fellow (January 2009)
- The Berkeley Rotary Center for International Studies in Peace and Conflict Resolution is one of the seven centers funded by Rotary International. Up to ten Rotary World Peace Fellows join the Center each fall to study for two years in a wide range of disciplines emphasizing issues of peace, human rights, conflict resolution and international studies.
- Participatory Video Facilitator
- Film Aid International - Kakuma Refugee Camp ( July 2010 - August 2010 )
- Worked with 30 young refugees from Somalia, Congo, Sudan, Ethiopia and Uganda at Kakuma Refugee camp in north Kenya. Through a participatory video process Becky facilitated the inception, filming and production of four documentaries about life in the camp. 1. Kakuma in Focus - on the process of making the documentaries. 2. Brewing Trouble - focusing on the high rate of illegal alcohol brewing in the camp. 3. Not My Will - covering prostitution in the camp. 4. How We Live - a different perspective of life in a refugee camp. This highlights entrepreneurship, trade and business in the camp. 5. The Girl Child - examines why it is that so few girls attend and flourish at school in the camp.
- Diplomatic Reporter
- The Myanmar Times - Rangoon, Burma ( April 2008 - July 2009 )
- Interviewed internally displaced persons, government officials, UN agencies, INGOs and those affected by Cyclone Nargis. Wrote articles covering the relief efforts and issues relating to development such as heroin production in Shan State and the impact of the economic crisis on sex workers. Has learned to cope with a high level of press censorship while remaining committed to the concept of free press in Burma.
- Communications Consultant
- Save the Children - Bangladesh ( December 2007 - January 2008 )
- Made an audio slide-show and wrote several articles and case studies to cover the emergency efforts after Cyclone Sidr.
- The Asahi Shinbun - Tokyo ( November 2007 - April 2008 )
- Worked for the features section of a weekly English language newspaper in Japan. Interviewed activists to investigate social problems within Japanese society.
- The Georgian Center for Strategic Studies - Tbilisi, Georgia ( June 2005 - September 2005 )
- Interviewed some of the 250,000 people internally displaced by the conflict with Abkhazia. I also interviewed UN agencies and international non-governmental organizations working on internally displaced women's rights. This fed into my dissertation covering the impact of ethnic conflict on women.
- Journalist and Producer
- Talk Radio News Services - Washington DC ( January 2005 - April 2005 )
- Worked as a producer and journalist reporting from the White House and Capitol Hill, producing radio programs that were aired nationally.
Founded Project Open Hands – a community development project in Guatemala that involved teaching First Aid, giving art classes and running games sessions at a local primary school in the North of the country. June – September 2004 June – September 2003
Wrote annual reports on the emergency relief efforts after Cyclone Nargis and the community based approach piloted in Burma by ActionAid. Led workshops to build capacity of local staff.
Directed and produced a seven-minute documentary for Help Age International’s donors to highlight the specific needs of elderly persons in the wake of an emergency, with particular reference to Cyclone Nargis and its impact.
CNN International, Gleneagles, Scotland. Worked on the CNN television team covering the G8 Summit in June 2008.