Yosra Kok, second-year student in IE University’s Dual Degree in Laws + International Relations, tells us how she and fellow students launched an online newspaper to spread positivity and inspiration.

When Yosra noticed the toxic effect that excessive exposure to negative news headlines had on her, she decided to combat the doom and gloom. With one great idea and the determination to make it a reality, she launched an online newspaper that reports a different kind of news. We spoke to her about this inspiring project and what it took to bring it to life.

Tell us a bit about yourself and the project.

I’m Yosra Kok, I’m from the Netherlands, and I am a second-year student in the Dual Degree in Laws + International Relations. I am also founder and editor-in-chief of Absolutely Brilliant Times

The other board members are Catalina León, student of the Bachelor in International Relations, from Colombia, Manuela Camarero, student of the Dual Degree in Laws + International Relations, from Spain and Carlos Loaiza Gonzalez, student of the Bachelor in Design, from Ecuador. We are all second-year students. Apart from our board, we have 20+ other students in our team and are growing every day!

How did you come up with this idea?

Absolutely Brilliant Times was born out of my desire to share positivity in my environment. I noticed myself feeling overwhelmed by all the negative headlines when looking at recent news and wished that, for once, positive things could share the spotlight. There is so much happening in our world, and I believe that in order to give a balanced overview of recent events around the globe, both negative and positive news should receive attention. That is how Absolutely Brilliant Times originally started, as a place to share positive news and emphasize the positive side of humanity. The team consists of students from many different degrees, which gives it diversity and vision and brings in stories from all kinds of different disciplines and for all kinds of interests. 

What is Absolutely Brilliant Times about?

It’s a news platform that highlights positive news from all around the world, from LEGO saving coral reefs and oranges becoming electricity to a turtle on a plane. We aim to bring balance to the current global news landscape through a combination of feel-good news and constructive journalism that we share with our audience daily. We aim to brighten your day and become your source of positive news! No matter how small or insignificant some positive news may seem, spreading it has a massive impact on humanity. It decreases feelings of hopelessness, stress and anxiety and increases solidarity, harmony and unity. ABTimes is a platform that immediately brings a smile to your face, a place that gives you an instant serotonin boost. 

How has IE University helped in developing this project?

My Dual Degree in Laws + International Relations has taught me a lot about deadline management, planning and scheduling. Pursuing a dual degree, especially alongside extracurricular activities and other projects, requires strong organization skills, and I have learned a lot in this regard since beginning my studies. The courses I have taken so far have helped me develop leadership and cross-cultural communication skills, writing skills and much more.  That’s what makes working with students from a variety of different degrees so useful and informative. Everyone learns different skills in their respective degrees. These all complement each other and make for a very effective learning environment where everyone is able to develop new skills and learn from each other.

What are some challenges you have faced, and how have you overcome them?

I think the first challenge we faced was the fear of starting a project of this scale. In one of the initial meetings I asked our team, which was only seven people at that point, “Are we actually doing this?” Everyone’s reaction was so positive that I decided that this was it—we were seeing this through. 

Organizing deadlines and meetings for students who all study different degrees and have different schedules definitely poses some challenges, but with the incredible enthusiasm of all of the team members, we’ve been able to overcome many of these problems relatively easily.  Another big challenge has been that a lot of the tasks we’re doing are new to us. Things like building a website, creating publishing schedules, figuring out analytics and how to engage an online audience have absolutely been—and still are—a learning process. However, that’s what Absolutely Brilliant Times is for our team: a place to learn new skills, practice and grow while working together to bring a vision to life and put it out there into the world.

What would you say to students who are thinking about creating their own projects?

Just go for it! Starting a new project is always a big step, and it takes time, effort and love to turn your vision into reality. The workload can be heavy, but the payoff is definitely worth it. If members from my team or people who hear about our project come to me and say how excited they are about Absolutely Brilliant Times, I instantly feel more confident about the project and feel that the effort we’re putting in is worth it. It’s scary at first, but the whole process of thinking up, developing and actually starting a new project is extremely educational. So don’t let your fear get in the way—take the plunge. 

Check out Absolutely Brilliant Times for yourself on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram or at abtimes.org. If you’d like to discover more about studying a dual degree at IE University, find more details here