"The thing about chaos, is that while it disturbs us, it too, forces our hearts to roar in a way we secretly find magnificent." -Christopher Poindexter
It has been awhile since I have posted a blog because life has been both chaotic and beautiful. This year has been full of growth and new understandings, and I look forward to what is to come. I am six weeks into my senior year of high school and six weeks into my sophomore year of college, which may sound confusing, but it just implies that I am a concurrent student. As a matter of fact, I will have my associate's degree two weeks before I get my high school diploma. This is an amazing opportunity for me to be able to accomplish everything I want to, and for those who know me well, it is clear that I have an abundant amount of aspirations for my life. Even just last night I was talking to my mom about how I wanted to be a part of two different internships, three jobs, a new program for the local hockey team that a friend and I came up with, and of course my high school and college classes... but alas, I have to prioritize my activities, and school is currently at the top of that list.
With senior year underway, I have been working on college applications almost everyday, which, depending on the day, may entail college research, writing essays, applying for scholarships, comparing costs, talking to admissions counselors, submitting my actual applications, etc. I have a pretty good idea of my top five colleges, but distance, community, and scholarships will affect where I decide to go in the end. College sounds so exciting, but at the same time a little scary. Although I attend a community college and go to campus for classes and activities, it will still be a big change for me to leave town and live on campus of a university,
Life keeps me pretty busy, and I am thankful for it. I have exciting things planned for my senior year, but I will talk about those things closer to time. For now, I should get back to those college applications!
It has been about a month since my trip to D.C, and I miss it immensely. I needed the trip to settle in my mind before I posted another blog because I am still just in awe about my experience with the Washington Journalism and Media Conference. The last night there, we had a Gala, and I think it was the first time we all truly felt comfortable around each other. We all agreed that we needed another week for the conference since we finally got to know each other on a deeper level than "Hi, my name is [name], and I'm from [place]." But I know that the friendships I formed on my trip will last because we all understand each other. We have similar interests, but we come from such different backgrounds and cities, which makes our friendship all the more special and unique.
I still think about the conference on a daily basis, and I think about how much I have grown in my knowledge and love for journalism and photography. Continuing on the path to a successful career, I plan on taking more classes and testing my abilities in the field. Every place I go, I want to leave a mark. I want people to remember who I am for what I do and how hard I work. So thank you to everyone who has supported, encouraged, and cheered me on because I would not be where I am today without all of the kind people in my life. Thank you to those who helped me raise money for my trip to Washington D.C., and just know that my life is forever changed because of it.
Today was a busy day filled with some wonderful, insightful keynote speakers. We discussed mostly politics, which I have to say is not my favorite journalism topic; however, it is a very prominent focus point in today's society. Some speakers were interactive with the audience, which was nice, but my favorite speakers were the ones who kept their bias out of the speech.
A great example of a speaker not using bias, but rather discussing the important matters at hand and getting to the truth and science behind our issues was when Susan Goldberg, the Editor in Chief of National Geographic talked about the magazine. She brought an important factor of journalism, and that is the global outreach to specific audiences. National Geographic has always caught my eye, and I think that it would be sensational to have the opportunity to be a NatGeo photographer. With that responsibility, a person should come to the realization that aiming their pitches at each unique group of people is so incredibly important for gaining viewers. National Geographic alters their stories ever so slightly in order to reach out to people through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, monthly magazine subscriptions of course, and the very popularized by the younger generations media source- Snapchat. Mrs. Goldberg brought up some excellent points on how to be an effective storyteller and how to report the truth even if it loses you 8,000 subscribers (this is referring to the January 2017 edition covering the Gender Revolution). It was wonderful to hear from her.
Another speaker that really stood out to me was Michael Shear, a White House correspondent for The New York Times. It was interesting to watch how the audience interacted with him, and if/when things got out of hand, he was quick to reel everyone back in and keep the conversation going in a calm manner. He was open to every single opinion shared, and he acknowledged the value of the question before answering it. Shear demonstrated patience and sincere interest in the National Youth Correspondents of the Washington Media and Journalism Conference, and he allowed us to share our commentary, then he replied with a very respectful remark. I am so grateful I had the chance to listen to him discuss the world of journalism.
The speakers that visited us today were all very well prepared, and I appreciate them taking the time out of their day to discuss journalism with the WJMC Youth Correspondents. If the beginning of the week has already been this beneficial, then I cannot wait to see what the rest of the week holds. It has been a long day, and now it's time to get some rest. Goodnight everyone.
The first day of camp (Washington Journalism and Media Conference) was the most inspirational, welcoming experience I have had in a very long time. Everyone here is so kind, and I was greeted with hugs from strangers. Some people connected over social media prior to this week, but they were still open to adding people into their online chat and connecting with new people. The funny/sad thing that happened on Sunday, opening day, was that I ran into another girl at the airport who is also here for WJMC, and we decided to walk to the meeting place together. On the way there, we stopped by the bathroom, and when we finally made it to the designated location, the leader informed us that we just missed the shuttle by TWO minutes! So we had to wait an hour and a half for the next and final shuttle going to campus. Which means that when we arrived, we had ten minutes to put our luggage in our rooms, change into professional clothes, and make it back downstairs in time for dinner. We also missed the campus tour and the welcome activities, but dinner was amazing, and we were able to listen to the very experienced Jamie Smith, the Global Chief Communications Officer of The BitFury Group.
Today, Monday, has been a very busy day. Breakfast starts at 7 a.m. and we met with our color groups at 8. From there we loaded the buses and headed to the Newseum, where we explored the various floors for hours. Not only was it educational, it was also extremely enjoyable. Everything there was so fascinating, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone visiting D.C. However, some floors would not be the best for a younger audience due to the graphic images and stories. After reading countless headlines, browsing the Pulitzer Prize winning photography, and going through hands-on simulations, it was, unfortunately, time to go. But we had the chance to listen to Eric Felten, the Managing Editor of The Weekly Standard, and then go get dinner. I could have stayed at the Newseum the rest of the day, but I also had a wonderful time visiting the Lincoln Memorial and the World War II Memorial (both pictured below) around dusk. The interesting obstacle of the evening occurred at the White House where were rushed off the street by the police. It was chaotic as they maneuvered us towards the sidewalk on the other side of the street and directed us to leave. They said that the street was now closed and we were to make our way to H Street. It was not easy to corral nearly 300 National Youth Correspondents away from this historic attraction, but somehow we managed. I’m not exactly sure what happened that caused us to leave, but I plan on researching it more when I have some free time (who knows when that will be though).
So as you can probably tell, today has been a very eventful day, but I have had such a superb time so far. The wifi is pretty slow, so it may be difficult to upload my personal accounts of the week, but trust me, it will happen when I get the opportunity. The mornings may be the best time to check for updates.
I made it to D.C!!! Where to begin?! I have most definitely gotten my walking in these past two days. The flights were smooth yesterday, and upon arrival, my mother and I decided we didn't want to wait an hour for the uber... so we got to our hotel via the metro, which was very exciting since I've never been on anything like it before. After we had lunch at this wonderful pasta place across the street and were settled into the hotel, we went out exploring the city. We first walked to the United States Capitol, where we took some great pictures and talked to the very kind security guard out front. Seeing that the Senate side was under construction, our curiosity led us to ask what they were doing. Apparently it is undergoing some high-tech laser updates. From there, we went to the Washington Monument and were able to photograph it with the night sky in the background. Though we were able to see the Lincoln Memorial from where we were, we chose not to walk to it, and we headed towards The White House instead.
The architecture here is absolutely beautiful! Everywhere you look, you can see incredible masonry that has been here for hundreds of years. The detail is unbelievable and I am still in awe of everything on day 2, and I probably will remain in awe for the rest of the week. This morning we headed for the touristy parts of D.C., and we got quite a bit of shopping in for some great deals. Some highlights of today include walking to Ford's Theater, the house where Lincoln died, The Spy Museum, and The FBI Building. We did not go inside any of these places, but around midday we went through the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History where we soaked in all of the information from the exhibits. After some more shopping and walking, we passed by the Trump International Hotel. Only expecting to take pictures from the street, we started to head off, but then my mom asked a guard about something, and he recommended that we go up inside the clock tower of the hotel. We had no idea it was open to the public or that it was free, so we decided to check it out. The Trump Hotel is the second tallest building in D.C., and it used to be the old Post Office. The view from the top of the clock tower was breathtaking, and I think it has been a pretty successful day.
One of the many things I have loved about this trip is the live street music, which ranges from singers, drummers, and guitarists to flute players and larger instrumental bands. This is just the start of my adventure here, and I cannot wait to see what the rest of the week holds.
Tomorrow I board a plane and head to Washington D.C. for the week-long Washington Journalism and Media Conference (or WJMC). I will meet new people from all over the country who have similar aspirations to mine, and I could not be more excited for this wonderful opportunity. This is a big step towards building a stable, successful career that involves the things I love the most: photography and travel.
This all started a few months ago when I received an invitation in the mail from George Mason University, and I casually brought it up in conversation with my parents, not ever expecting that I would actually be able to go. But here I am, six hours before my first flight takes off, getting ready to make some memories and learn more about the path I am headed down. After many hours of research, emails, phone calls, and fundraising, the time has finally come to venture north and expand my understanding of photojournalism.
The conference starts on Sunday, but I wanted to get there a few days early so that I can go sightseeing at all the places that I won't be going to during my time at George Mason University. I plan on making a stop at the zoo to hopefully see the elephants (my favorite wild animal) and all of the other beautiful creatures that inhabit the park (pictures are to follow). As I have never been to Washington D.C., I have a lot of activities planned; however, I don't want to get ahead of myself, so I will talk about my experiences after the fact.
While yes, I am nervous... I'm mostly excited. I will meet new people and form friendships with them, I'll add to my life experiences, get some great photojournalism practice in, hear from some inspirational leaders and speakers, and hopefully have the time of my life. More posts are to come about my time in Washington, so check back!
I am an aspiring photographer, writer, and adventurer. I love the outdoors and I love to tell a great story with pictures!