Eleanor Beardsley

Eleanor Beardsley began reporting from France for NPR in June 2004 as a freelance journalist, following all aspects of French society, politics, economics, culture, and gastronomy. Since then, she has steadily worked her way to becoming an integral part of the NPR Europe reporting team.

Beardsley has been an active part of NPR's coverage of the two waves of terrorist attacks in Paris and in Brussels. She has also followed the migrant crisis, traveling to meet and report on arriving refugees in Hungary, Austria, Germany, Sweden, and France. She has also travelled to Ukraine, including the flashpoint eastern city of Donetsk, to report on the war there, and to Athens, to follow the Greek debt crisis.

In 2011 Beardsley covered the first Arab Spring revolution in Tunisia, where she witnessed the overthrow of the autocratic President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. Since then she has returned to the North African country many times to follow its progress on the road to democracy.

In France, Beardsley covered both 2007 and 2012 French presidential elections. She also reported on the riots in French suburbs in 2005 and the massive student demonstrations in 2006. Beardsley has followed the Tour de France cycling race and been back to her old stomping ground — Kosovo — to report for NPR on three separate occasions.

Prior to moving to Paris, Beardsley worked for three years with the United Nations Mission in Kosovo. She also worked as a television producer for French broadcaster TF1 in Washington, DC and as a staff assistant to Senator Strom Thurmond.

Reporting from France for Beardsley is the fulfillment of a lifelong passion for the French language and culture. At the age of 10 she began learning French by reading the Asterix The Gaul comic book series with her father.

While she came to the field of radio journalism relatively late in her career, Beardsley says her varied background, studies, and travels prepared her for the job as well as any journalism school. "I love reporting on the French because there are so many stereotypes about them that exist in America," she says. "Sometimes it's fun to dispel the false notions and show a different side of the Gallic character. And sometimes the old stereotypes do hold up. But whether Americans love or hate France and the French, they're always interested!"

A native of South Carolina, Beardsley has a Bachelor of Arts in European history and French from Furman University in Greenville, S.C., and a master's degree in International Business from the University of South Carolina.

Beardsley is interested in politics, travel, and observing foreign cultures. Her favorite cities are Paris and Istanbul.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

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Pigeons in London have a bad reputation. Some people call them flying rats. And many blame them for causing pollution with their droppings. But now the birds are being used to fight another kind of pollution in this city of 8.5 million.

"The problem for air pollution is that it's been largely ignored as an issue for a long time," says Andrea Lee, with the London-based environmental organization ClientEarth. "People don't realize how bad it is, and how it actually affects their health."

Britons will vote in June on whether to stay or leave the European Union. Both sides are campaigning fiercely in what is known as the Brexit, or British exit, referendum.

The town of Hastings on England's south coast is one of the closest points to the European continent. But local opinion polls show about half the people here want Britain to leave the European Union.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Anna Pfeifer unlocks a door to one of the apartments for unaccompanied minors in the town of Ronneby, in southern Sweden. She says there are 50 kids at this complex, all between the ages of 15 and 18. They come from countries across Africa and the Middle East — mostly boys, and a handful of girls.

The home of Freia-Mai Franck and Hans Sick in the southern Swedish town of Karlshamn is very lively these days. This couple in their 70s — who have grown kids and grandkids of their own — took in a pair of Afghan teenagers three months ago.

Franck says she was a refugee herself after World War II, when her family fled eastern Germany from the advancing Soviet army.

As soon as I walk into the squalid, unofficial migrant camp known as "the Jungle," outside the northern French city of Calais, I meet Amran, a 13-year-old Afghan boy staying here on his own.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Temperatures hover around freezing outside, but it's warm inside this university building that now serves as a migrant reception center in the southern Swedish town of Ronneby. Migrants come in out of the cold to join Swedish volunteers, who show up twice a week to help them fill out forms or study the language.

One of those volunteers is 77-year-old Mia Gustafsson. She says the migrants are very eager to learn, and the experience is rewarding.

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