This year, we invited you to come along as we joined a hunt for the caiman in Bolivia. To attend with us the funeral of a neighbor in Tehran. To traipse at our side the streets of a Russian village drowning in sand. To dodge vicious sea gulls in Rome. To discover Melania Trump’s hometown in Slovenia. And to grieve over the loss of a beloved pet in Bangkok.
In the summer, The New York Times introduced a new feature, the Dispatch, whose goal is to make you feel as if you are right there beside our correspondents as they explore the world, sometimes to report stories to make you smile, sometimes to place you in the middle of a controversy, and sometimes to ask you not to look away from heart-wrenching scenes of tragedy.
The written word is an essential part of this endeavor, and our storytellers have transported you to to some of the world’s most interesting places, like Senegal, where the Baobab tree is beloved; the Solomon Islands, where we introduced you to the Seaweed King and his sinking empire, and Madagascar, where vanilla is as precious as silver.
Here are some of our favorite Dispatches from 2018. Which ones did you like most?
In Syria, a Christian area is dealing with a far more recent atrocity:
While calm has returned to a Christian area of Syria ravaged by the Islamic State, the traumatized people have not, with whole villages emptied. “There are so few of us,” says a church official.
There were bright spots this past year, like this exuberant athletic competition in Kyrgyzstan:
Parents of first-year college students in China live in tents on campus to make goodbyes easier. Critics say they are pampering a generation of only children.
In a town in Guatemala, grieving parents memorialize the journeys their adult children made to the United States:
In rural areas of Guatemala, which have sent a steady stream of migrants north, the United States looms large in the popular imagination, and symbols of American life and culture are everywhere.
An important symbol in Canada — the official home of the prime minister — is in desperate need of renovation:
As climate change threatens trees in Africa, it also poses an existential threat to Pacific Islanders: