Sunday, August 9, 2009

More than "life-changing"

Nathaniel Reel (Bronx, NY), left, interviews Valerie Briseno (Laredo, TX) during the "Broadcast Journalism" workshop. (Photo Credit: Brian Rokus '99).

By Brianda Reyes (Garland, TX)

Describing this ten-day program as “life-changing” wouldn’t do it justice. During the past nine days, I’ve felt more accepted and understood than ever before in my life. All four of the directors, each with their own personality, were more than supportive: they were encouraging. Having already gone through the same experience, the counselors were willing to help and guide us through difficult moments. Although at first slightly reserved, we, the students, soon became close friends and developed bonds that not even distance will be able to destroy.

We came for a journalism program and, while it’s true that we learned about journalism and techniques, we also learned about other things. While learning to differentiate between news and features, we learned to express our ideas more eloquently. As we listened to inspiring stories told by the guest speakers, we developed techniques of staying awake although we had only a few, if any, hours of sleep. We learned journalistic concepts of respecting others’ opinions, but as Richard Just, one of the directors, said, to never "tolerate" them. As we experienced broadcast journalism with our guest speaker ABC News Melvin McCray '74 and were coaxed into interviewing one another in front of professional cameras, we learned to be confident and comfortable with the person we are. When visiting The New York Times, CNN and The Daily Beast, we learned to work as a team and take care of one another.

We stayed up late talking about everything and anything while making fun of MTV videos. We walked in the heavy rain to the point where it looked like we’d all come out of a swimming pool. We complained about the insane amount of other camps in the University that made getting food an adventure. We burst into random bouts of applause. We sang along to Sean Kingston’s “Somebody Call 911.” We slowly, but surely, became a family: SJP ’09.

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