Thursday, August 12, 2010

Imaginary Counselors

By Tammy Chan (Queens, NY)

This morning, I found myself waking up at precisely 6:59 a.m., anticipating a loud knock on my door— more like a bang. There were times within these three days, I swore I heard a knock and proceeded to open the door to show my face to the imaginary counselor that was standing right there. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not totally crazy. What was crazy though was dragging my feet to my door in Scully and turning what seemed to be the heaviest handle that has ever been installed on a door. I’m only half-shocked to admit this, but I miss the intense experience of SJP at Princeton University. Half-shocked only because part of me is glad to have gone through such an intense experience.

Ironically, what I miss most are the 17-hour days we had. From leaving Scully to have breakfast in Wilcox and then journeying, yes journeying to the Friend Center, it’s strange that I miss that long walk on hot days. I also miss being half-awake walking to the common room, looking sleep-deprived and seeing everyone look the same way and breathing a sigh of relief. I miss the little things too—like struggling every morning to take the dining card off the lanyard even though it was clearly accessible without taking it off. I miss starting the day out at breakfast with the ‘Alliance.’ I miss ending the day with a couple of games of Uno even when counselors would tell us to go to sleep. I miss the whole west coast, east coast duel, the whole shenanigan about how Long Island isn’t really part of New York (many thanks to SJP director Michael Koike '01 for confirming this on the second to last day with regards to traveling back). The list of what I miss could go on and on and on and on, but it would still never show just how much I miss it.

To be honest, I was glad to return home so that I could catch up on some sleep. So much for that … I still wake up at 6:59 a.m. and go to bed around 2:00 a.m., just because. It’s strange to think that we’re all back to our regular lives when those 10 days really consumed us in every way possible. I could tell my friends a storm about this program, but they’ll never really understand unless they were actually there.

This program really pushed us all beyond our limits in exposing the truth about our talents and about our abilities. The directors believed in us and pushed us a step towards the right direction. By doing that, we found out what our true abilities were. This program marked a time when we all thought that we couldn’t do it, but at the end, we hurdled down that obstacle and crossed the finish line … alive. I’m really grateful for getting the chance to be there when it all happened.

A Risk Worth Taking

Jonathan Wigfall accepts his certificate of completion on the last day
By Jonathan Wigfall (Camden, NJ)

When I returned to Camden, I emailed my guidance counselor to tell her about the program, and she told me how proud she is of me. Princeton was nothing short of amazing. I knew that going to the Princeton University Summer Journalism Program would be a great experience, but I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed myself in Princeton until I arrived back home.

The counselors, other students and the campus is unforgettable. I woke up the other morning and assumed I was late for breakfast because I didn’t get a wake-up call (a loud knock on my door at 7:00AM). 

I encouraged some underclassmen at my school to apply to the program when they become eligible. They could tell I had a good time from my Facebook updates and the TWO HUNDRED pictures I posted.

Sure, the first day or two was getting to know people’s names and getting a feel for the Journalism Program’s schedule. Names were rough for me at first but it wasn’t long before our class of students became one big exhausted family. I promised myself I would not put my head down and go to sleep, but I did manage to nearly fall asleep sitting up a couple times.

Once home, I took advantage of my right to sleep. I kept in mind that I couldn’t get lazy or ignore my emails though. So I got my rest, finished my new resume, and began looking for scholarships.

I now understand why so many alumni of the program return to volunteer their time as counselors. Being around such diverse and intellectual people creates a great environment, especially when it’s for a noteworthy cause.

At our closing banquet, Richard Just spoke of risks. Many of us took a leap coming to the program, traveling a long distance or just opening up to people who we met for the first time. I’m sure I speak for SJP’s class of 2010 when I say the risk was completely worth it.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Long Ride Home

SJP '10 student Tashi Shuler-Drakes is seated between two alumni counselors.
By Tashi Shuler-Drakes (Bridgeport, CT) 

Tears, more tears, and a long ride home.

SJPers clung to each other while boarding the Princeton train called "The Dinky" and tried not to think of the final seperation that most of them would face at the next stop. Having become closer than we had thought during these 10 days, the seperation was more emotional than I had expected.

I had personally told myself that I wouldn't cry and I didn't. At least not until I was by myself realizing how much these people had meant to me and how much hope that they had given me. And the tears got worse when I remembered all the compliments they had given me and how they had all built up my confidence in their own ways.

So even though there were tears, at least I can say that they were tears of of joy. And I hope that I in turn have impacted some of them, as much as they had impacted me.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Last Day: SJP '10 Rewinds

Video by Eileen Shim (SJP '07 Alum/Yale '12)

A Great Figure of Our Time: Dr. Cornel West

By Antonio Regulier (Roosevelt, NY)

“Keep it funky” African American Studies Professor Cornel West said.

With his three piece black suit, black scarf, long chain pocket watch and static afro, Dr. Cornel West commanded the crowd’s attention as soon as he opened his mouth. Speaking with a spiritual tone, like that of a Baptist pastor, Dr. Cornel West reminded us all that we were all the same.

Even though it was lunch time and we were all tired from having completed a workshop with Brian Rokus and meeting with the Princeton Director of Admissions, no one could fall asleep.

He started by talking about the corrupt jail system which continued to enslave our black brothers and how more brothers were in jail rather than in universities.

Having been around popular politicians and influential men in America, Mr. West shared his knowledge on the topics of immigration, racism, and discrimination. Although he doesn't agree with the Obama Administration, he didn’t quite explain why he and Obama are on different ends of the spectrum.

Yet, Dr. Cornel West was very adamant about us being nothing but "creatures born between urine and feces."

As shocking as that sounds, it is true. He is right. Race is nothing but a political concept. We are all humans, and soon, our bodies will be "culinary delight for terrestrial worms."

So, it’s all about how funky you keep it when you’re alive because we are all going to the same place.

Let's Get Silly

By Frances Richburg (Bronx, NY)

Silly bands are a physical representation of the band of silly students and counselors the Princeton University Summer Journalism Program has essentially “banded” together.

Somewhat of an East Coast phenomenon, silly bands are the ridiculously colorful bands you can catch people wearing on their wrists. Don’t be fooled, however, because these seemingly ordinary rubber bands transform into various objects, animals, characters, and who knows what else.

The East Coast students have successfully allowed the West Coast students to obtain a part of the East Coast flavor by introducing them to the ever popular silly bands. Counselor Ben Crair purchased a ton of silly bands and now everyone has several colorful bands on their wrists. Sometimes they coincidentally match someone’s outfit, and sometimes they just add a splash of life to the moment.

They have allowed the students to get closer to one another, and closer to the counselors. These items have sparked the interest of those unfamiliar with them and have reignited the interest of those who have long had them.

Their physical meaning is undermined by their emotional meaning. When people take them from you and never give them back, the silly band they have of yours will always remain yours and maybe when they look at it, they’ll think of you or they’ll think of what happened the moment they took it from you. Or, when people trade silly bands with one another, they’ll remember the person they traded silly bands with and the time and place they did so. They also spark furious debate over which ones are the nicest and who has what.

Such a simple entity has become quite the conversational piece amongst those who are meeting one another for the first time. I remember the first time I spoke to someone from California, I asked them if they knew what silly bands are, and when they said no, I instantly knew it had to be an East Coast thing which would eventually allow the entire group of students to form closer bonds, or bands.

Our silly bands embody the relationships we have built and the difficulty we will have in DIS-banding.

Investigating Violations in the Big Apple

By Imani Watson (Chicago, IL)

New York City is definitely one of the most phenomenal cities in the world! On Wednesday, SJP traveled to the Big Apple to crack down on car idlers. There is a law in New York City that does not allow cars to run their engines for more than three minutes if they're parked on the street. We timed a few idling cars and once their time exceeded three minutes, we went in for the kill (figuratively, of course).
I don't know about other SJPers, but I wasn't exactly fond of the idea of going up to random cars and asking the drivers whether or not they were familiar with the NYC law. Sure, I was nervous, but this was one of those scenarios where I had to fake it 'til I made it.
After the first few interviews, it was a breeze. Not everyone was responsive -- one New York City transit worker told us to go away before we could even introduce ourselves. Not everyone you interview will respond, but some will … and that’s what matters. Collectively, we got a lot of good quotes and stories from people that did cooperate with us. Investigative stories can be nerve-racking, but it's worth it in the end when the truth is revealed.

A New Perspective on Diversity

By Tonya Riley (Union Bridge, MD)

On the first day of PUSJP we discussed the theory of diversity in the newsroom. When many people hear diversity, they automatically think of ethnicity. However, color and origin are not the sole factors in determining what makes someone diverse.

As human beings, we grow and learn through our experiences and these in turn make us diverse. For example, I am a Caucasian female who at first glance seems to be a sample of the American middle-class majority. If you get to know me, as my fellow SJPers have, you would realize that you couldn't be farther from the truth. I am from a low-income rural area. I am a twin. I am a survivor of great adversity. Don’t these things make me diverse?

Being around such an eclectic group for nine days has taught me a lot about the world and myself. I now know how to say “My name is...” in Cantonese and Korean. I now know more about a culture of slam poetry and music that I had never been exposed to. I’ve realized that an intellectual is not just an elderly white professor with eloquent speech, (though I have met a few this week that fit that bill and who I deeply admire).

But most importantly, I have learned that diversity is not nearly as important as kinship. I have met friends this week that I would not have met otherwise. I definitely know that I will keep in touch with them through my college years and beyond.

Ryan Lizza on Profile Writing

By Shaiesha Moore (Chicago, IL)

As the days come to an end, I am filled with memories. The most recent influential speaker I’ve encountered was Ryan Lizza, the Washington correspondent for The New Yorker. He wrote a profile on President Barack Obama that we read in our extensive (aka really long) reading packet.

The best part of SJP is meeting the journalists who write the articles that we enjoy reading. And luckily, Ryan Lizza was one of those journalists. When he gave his workshop, he talked about the difficulties of profiling people and even conducting interviews with public officials. It was ironic, because right before the workshop I was trying to have a phone interview with a public official in Princeton, for the story I was working on for The Princeton Summer Journal. When I called to interview the official for my story, she was very rude and did not give me any relevant information; nor did our conversation last longer than 30 seconds.

As a result, I was kind of discouraged, and as Mr. Lizza put it, I had a personal “vendetta” against her. But, when I asked Ryan about his experiences, he said being blown off by public officials and other people is just part of the job as a journalist. He also gave me advice about how to handle people like that. After his words of encouragement, I was no longer discouraged, but I actually felt motivated.

Meeting Ryan Lizza from The New Yorker, is just another memory that I will add to the memories that have started from the moment I stepped foot on Princeton.

Audio: Teaching Students How to Write Personal Narratives

Mario Rosser (SJP '08 Alum/Columbia '13) sits down with Tasnim Shamma (SJP '06 Alum/Princeton '11) to discuss the personal narratives workshop and the experience of being a counselor at The Princeton University Summer Journalism Program.

Midnight Uno

By Tammy Chan (Queens, NY) and Jonathan Wigfall (Camden, NJ)

"Two for a mistake! You didn’t say Uno! Draw two!"

After a long day of workshops and guest speakers, there’s really nothing better than stepping into a hot, steamy shower, slipping into comfortable PJs and then finally being able to enjoy a brisk air-conditioned dorm rooms where the bed becomes our ‘bestest’ of friends. We are all sleep-deprived, and simply EXHAUSTED.

Nonetheless, we still make our plans to meet up in the common room to play a couple of games of Uno.

While most of us sleep, others make it through the night by playing our favorite card game.

Slowly but surely, the game builds its momentum as the night carries on. Sometimes it gets a little too heated; arguments start, then laughter becomes endless.

The game of Uno usually goes into the early mornings, but we still manage to wake up as early as five in the morning to get started on the day's activities.

Originally, only a few of us stayed up to play Uno, but as our group became closer, more and more people joined the program’s late-night craze.

“It’s cool,” Antonio Regulier said. “You get to communicate … and get to know each other.”

What was intended to be a short game to relax with other young journalists became a social activity among the SJPers that only strengthened our bonds during the limited ten days.

My Chair By The Door: Reflections on the Alumni Panel

SJP alumni relax in Palmer Square
By Marion Smallwood (SJP '07 Alum/UPenn '12)

Today is one of my favorite days out of the whole program. I sat in a workshop with Ryan Lizza, super-star New Yorker political reporter. I looked up to see SJP alumni from as far back as '05 pouring into the room, taking seats on the floor and sitting Indian-style on the floor. They shined their smiles and then immediately tuned in. It must have been reminiscent to have been back in that room, listening just as eagerly as they did as students in the old days.

They all arrived today for the alumni panel. Roughly 20 of us gathered in an auditorium, prepared to drop some knowledge in the student's heads about college, financial aid and SAT prep. After all, we all occupy some of the best colleges and universities this side of the coast. Who has a better brain to pick? (not cocky, honest!). That's just the kind of person SJP pushes out into the world summer after summer.

The students nervously engaged us with questions about rising SAT scores, transitioning from high school to college, university visits, scholarships and pure, undiluted experience. This is why I come back every summer. To inspire, encourage and mentor these students the way I was when I was in the program. SJP is so much of the reason I am where I am today. I only hope to create a fraction of the change SJP has made in my life, in the lives of one of these students.

We concluded the 'family reunion' with ice cream from The Bent Spoon and coffee. I must admit, I was a little heartbroken as I watched my own class (SJP '07 stand up!) and the class I first had the opportunity to mentor (SJP '09 stand taller!) leave for the Dinky. I may not see them again until next year.

But let's not think anymore about that. I think I'll just continue to sit right here in my chair by the door, read the student's blog posts and write.

SJP 2010 Talk with Princeton President Tilghman

Video by Eileen Shim (SJP '07 Alum/Yale '12).

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Sports Podcast: Binghamton Mets vs. Trenton Thunder

By Antonio Regulier (Roosevelt, NY) and Jonathan Wigfall (Camden, NJ)

Friend 009

By Marion Smallwood (SJP '07 Alum/UPenn '12)

What happens when a group of people, people of different ages and backgrounds, from different countries and regions, with different styles and personalities, come together in a small intellectual space wedged within an even smaller time frame? For the past three years, this has been for me, the face of journalism. It is what diversity, growth and possibility look like. It is a change eager to be made, a promise to be kept, a world to discover and then rediscover. It is the Princeton Summer Journalism Program. 

My experience with SJP '10 has been exciting. The students never cease to amaze me. They are wide-eyed and ambitious; their minds so easily expand and explore the minds of others. I can't help but be inspired. Every summer is just another reminder that the fabrics of our thoughts and ideas are limitless; that being an intellectual attaches us to a network of phenomenal human beings.

Marin for example, is the coolest political reporter I will ever meet, I'm sure of it. Our conversations range from "cute skirt!" to world music, politics, pop culture and education.

The students are all amazing. I was so impressed to see the SJP '10 students diving in head-first, into their first experience with investigative reporting in New York City. They spoke to people (who were not very receptive) with a professionalism and maturity I respect and admire.

Another SJP counselor, Adrian, really impresses me. I feel like my IQ rises a few points every time we have a conversation. He is genuinely interested in what a person has to say and has something equally or more interesting to say in return. I have yet to meet people as knowlegable, passionate and well-rounded as Adrian, Richard and the rest of the senior SJP counselors. Every conversation is a lesson learned.

And so I'll ask again: what happens when a diverse group of amazing people come together to accomplish a common goal? Lives change. Bonds form. Experiences make art from the canvas of our memories. A group of students realize they have the potential to do the things they have only dreamed of. A question turns into a summer newspaper produced within the walls of Friend, room 009. How appropriate the name of the place we have worked and grown in these last few days of SJP '10.

A Dramatic Seventh Inning

Video by SJP '10 Counselor Amanda Cormier (SJP '07 Alum/Columbia '12)
By Tammy Chan (New York, NY)

Trenton Thunder vs. Binghamton Mets. WHO? Oh, "minor" league baseball. Definitely not the Yankees or Red Sox, but it is a minor league after all.

The baseball field looked pretty small, but still pretty decent. The actual seats, now that was a shocker. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to have an actual audience, but the space seemed limited.

Along with a few other students, I was able to watch the game from the press box and interview people who closely follow the teams.

Pressbox seats and press badges at first didn’t seem much different than sitting in the furthest row back from the playing field itself. Even so, the environment in the pressbox was truly an experience. We had the scoreboard keeper on the right, then a person in charge of summing up the whole inning right next to him.

It took a long time for the game to really start. There was some play during third and fourth inning by the Mets, but Thunders were behind four points.

Bottom of 7th. The live action begins … FINALLY.

Bases loaded then three runs batted in. Next thing you know, Thunders are up three points. Almost there. Score: 4-3, in favor of the Mets.

It didn’t end there. Another base loaded, four more runs batted in and the Thunders made their comeback. Score: 7-4, in favor of the Thunders.

Victory. Score. Those words flashed on the screen in the field before our eyes, celebrating the victorious Thunders in making their comeback in this game that ultimately put them first in the Double-A Eastern League over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

Friday, August 6, 2010

SJP 2010 Day 6 (NYC) Video Recap

Video by SJP '10 Counselor Eileen Shim (SJP '07 Alum/Yale '12)

Surviving My First Year at Williams College

By Viviana Benjumea (SJP '08 Alum/Williams '13)

Two months after my first year at Williams College and back at SJP as a counselor this summer, I find myself reflecting on the good, the bad, the fun, the stressful, and lazy times at the very small and isolated liberal arts college. Coming from New York City, my first week at Williams was, needless to say, very different from what I was used to. I made sure that the orientation program I chose did not involve any hikes or any outdoor activities involving nature too much. I avoided walking through the grass and made sure I did not partake in the Hopkins Forest rope challenge. I stayed true and loyal to my city mentality. Though getting accustomed to the different environment was one of my biggest challenges, an even bigger challenge was reminding myself that I had earned my way into this elite school, and that I was just as good as everybody else.

There was always something I didn’t understand or had never heard of in every conversation. The first article I wrote for The Williams Record, had been mutilated and destroyed to the point that I barely recognized my article. I spent two days without sleep trying to write my first seven page paper for my Ancient Political Theory class. I never knew what to say in class and the readings were impossible to finish. I just did not feel like I belonged with this group of such intelligent people who wrote their papers and spoke in class with so much ease. I was not as eloquent or as fast as the rest of my freshman class. I was just not going to fit in.

Little by little, however, I realized that though I didn’t always know what people were referring to, there were things I spoke about that people had no idea about either. I remembered that when I had been an editor for my high school newspaper, I had also changed a lot of the reporters’ articles. I noticed that I spent more time on my writing because yes, I had never written such long papers for my high school teachers, but it was more because I was a perfectionist and wanted to fully understand what I was writing about. I realized that the readings were impossible to finish because unlike all the other students, I never skimmed or skipped any parts. Each and every one of us had something to teach the other and it had nothing to do with being smarter or more knowledgeable … it had everything to do with our different backgrounds, experiences, and interests.

Now that the year has ended and the moment has passed, I miss those endless and sleepless nights. I miss the long practices for Sankofa’s (the step team) show. I miss the discussions about diversity at Williams and the parties where I always hoped they would play at least one Spanish song. I miss the lunches with my professors and the time spent with them during office hours.

So yes, I am a Hispanic girl from New York City, but the cultural exchanges that have occurred up in the middle of the mountains with my friends and professors are invaluable.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

SJP 2010 Day 4-5 Video Recap

Video by SJP '10 Counselor Eileen Shim (SJP '07 Alum/Yale '12)

The Beauty and the (Daily) Beast

Students pose before the bright walls of The Daily Beast.
By Shawdae Harrison (Baltimore, MD)

The hour-and-a-half bus ride was well worth the wait when we arrived in New York City. We visited the city on Wednesday and the office of The New York Times was the first stop on our journalistic tour. The urban architecture of the building gave it the signature New York vibe and the huge New York Times sign was the perfect photo-op.

But the boring offices didn’t really do anything for me (no offense). When we stepped into the Times building, I felt like I could never picture myself there. Cubicles make me uncomfortable. I enjoyed the tour but I eagerly waited for The Daily Beast.

When we drove to the offices of The Daily Beast, I imagined that since The Daily Beast is a smaller company, that the offices would be cramped and modest compared to the The New York Times. But when we walked into the building, the d├ęcor screamed art deco and gave the building a great feel and warmth. The offices felt like people actually worked there. The splashes of color danced off the walls and etched into my head. Most of the walls were covered with chalkboards recording the results of the office foosball tournament.

I definitely noticed that the people there worked hard and played even harder. The staff welcomed the group and had no problem talking to us about the issues of journalism. Though not as big as the The New York Times, The Daily Beast took pride in its small but efficient offices. Character shined through on every floor and showed the true artistic and journalistic beauty of The Daily Beast.

Unexplored Backyard

Students pose on a set in the CNN newsroom.
By Frances Richburg (Bronx, NY)

New York! There’s certainly no other state like it, and that’s probably why there are so many successful media corporations there. We hauled out of Princeton and loaded onto a luxury bus headed to downtown New York. I definitely didn’t think heading back to my own town would be any fun, but we visited places I hadn’t had the opportunity to explore before. The day was packed with adventure, the best one by far being the nap on the bus after waking up at 5:45 am! We first arrived at The New York Times. As soon as we walked in, there were artsy electric panels that displayed random messages on an orange wall. The place was bright and colorful, and absolutely inviting to creative outbursts. We saw framed articles that previously received Pulitzer Prizes and we had a chance to speak with some reporters about their experiences and successes with journalism.

After that, we headed over to The Daily Beast, another aesthetically-pleasing atmosphere for journalism. After climbing to the second floor, we reached the comfortable space with an especially delightful food pantry. We spoke to several of the reporters in depth and got to see our counselor Mr. (Ben) Crair’s messy desk. There were a few colorfully designed walls displayed throughout the walk in the office and they were quite appealing. No wonder the visit turned into a short photo shoot!

After that, we went to CNN and took a gander at a few of the sets and the newsroom. Too bad Anderson Cooper was gone for lunch. After our series of tours, we went on an investigative trip to catch a few New Yorkers breaking the law by idling their cars for more than three minutes. This trip just proved that there are always new locations to discover even in your own backyard.

A Conversation With Princeton's President

Princeton University president Tilghman addresses the students.
By Jonathan Wigfall (Camden, NJ)

With a warm smile, Princeton University’s first female president, Shirley M. Tilghman, had a confession to tell us. “I didn’t have to go through the steps to become President,” Tilghman said humorously.

When former President Harold Tafler Shapiro stepped down, Princeton administrators began a search committee that Tilghman shortly joined. She always felt that the university needed a president who had prior experience in the science field. Though Tilghman was on the committee, she still had teaching responsibilities and missed a meeting to teach a class period. Ironically, when she came back, they had nominated her for candidacy.

Six weeks after Shapiro stepped down, Tilghman became Princeton’s first female president on May 5, 2001 and assumed office on June 15, 2001. In order to become a candidate for President at Princeton, candidates usually start as deans, or hold numerous administrative positions first, but she was able to bypass that. 

As President, “I had to learn about things I didn’t know much about,” Tilghman said.  

Born in Canada, Tilghman arrived at Princeton in 1986 and became the Howard A. Prior Professor of the Life Sciences. As a world-renowned scholar, Tilghman has become a pioneer in the molecular biology field. Tilghman was a part of the Princeton staff for 15 years before she was president. As President, she brings the experience of both a biologist and a teacher who also knows that her new position comes with tough decisions.

“No day is like any other day, I usually only get the big issues to handle,” Tilghman said.  

Tilghman has tackled many issues since she stepped in office, spending a fair amount of the time with students and advocating her own beliefs.  

“I can’t sit in the office and ask ‘Am I as good as [Woodrow] Wilson?’,” she said. 

Recognizing that there was no picture of a woman in the Nassau Hall of Presidents when she first visited the Hall, Tilghman has accomplished one major goal—being the first women president to be a success.  

“I want to leave a legacy,” Tilghman said.

Three words (well four): A True New Yorker

Students pose before The New York Times building.
By Tammy Chan (Queens, NY.)

Being woken up by the ‘obnoxious’ knock on the door at precisely 5:45am was no fun. Not hearing the knock on the door and having your roommate wake you up is still another story. Already inching towards that 6:30am meet-up time, I hurried to get ready with a quick shower and threw on some business-casual clothes. It was a bit uncomfortable to say the least, but to be able to go back to NYC was soooo worth it.

I have to say I’m a true New Yorker.

During the bus ride, I was knocked out. But being able to wake up just as we got past the line distinguishing New York from New Jersey should really tell you something.

As soon as we stepped off the bus in the heart of the city, Times Square, I could smell the polluted air, see the trash-infested streets, the overcrowded sidewalks filled with pedestrians, and feel the true rhythm and beat of the city itself.

To some people, NYC may not be the place for them. “It’s dirty. It stinks. The subway ride sucks.” The comments continue. But to people like me who were born and raised in the city itself, it’s become an addiction that I have to come back to no matter where I go.

Bring me to the city parts of any state, any country, and I’ll only have one thing on my mind: “When am I going back to NYC?” Bring me to Washington D.C., Chicago, Philadelphia, and nothing will EVER compare to NYC itself. Whoever thinks differently, please enlighten me and take it up with me.

I guess it’s the overcrowded streets, how the overcapacity always exists. I guess it’s how there’s actually a pace you have to master before you can tackle Times Square and knowing what moves to make while walking. You gotta maneuver each of your body parts. Arms to the side, definitely no swinging. Bags clutched tight by your arms. Look straight ahead. And definitely DO NOT whatsoever stop in the middle of the street. Dropped a sweater? NOT WORTH IT. Keep it movin’, it’ll be the best decision you’ll ever make. Don’t believe me? Give it a try and don’t say I didn’t tell you so. Nonetheless, there’s no room for hesitation, you have to keep it pushin’. If you don’t, you’ll get demolished. Shoulder bumping, toe stepping, arguments arising. That’s NYC for you. But that’s what drives me towards NYC the most, being a spectator whilst walking and witnessing these actions happen before your eyes.

It’s the polluted air that characterizes NYC. I don’t find anything wrong with that, honestly. My lungs are probably blackened by that fact and not by second-hand smoke, but it’s become an obsession. I’m obsessed with the city life because I am, in fact, a city girl.

Bring me to Princeton, NJ, and take me out of the city, but you can never take the city out of the girl. That’s exactly how I feel.

If you can’t handle it, don’t come. I can say I’m an advocate of NYC. I could imagine myself in the real estate realm, advocating prospective NYC residents to ultimately move here.

You got to walk the walk, talk the talk—even with that “New Yorker accent” everyone claims you have. Hold your head up high, speed walk for life, and keep it pushin’. If you’re gonna be a true New Yorker, you got to act like the New Yorker. So wear that pride on your sleeve, and wear it right, we have a rep to protect. Seriously.

Life and Friendships at SJP

Students share ice cream and stories at The Bent Spoon.
By Tashi Shuler-Drakes (Bridgeport, CT.)

Coming into a new setting and meeting people is not always easy, especially for those of us that don’t like change. But it’s like these distinctions aren’t made between the kids at SJP.

Everyone gets along and we all actually talk to each other. We are definitely not strangers. Long walks from place to place on campus have created an environment for us to get engaged with each other. I find it comforting that I can walk with a different person each time we go out and still have a comfortable conversation.

And the counselors actually involve themselves as well. They don’t sit outside the realm of the program and just leave us to twiddle our thumbs. They ask us about ourselves, get to know us, and care. They set up these situations that let us know that we’re not in this alone. And it feels good to know that we’re not, especially coming from a place where it’s every man for himself.

Being here makes me feel as if I'm more than myself. It's so emotionally strengthening because they basically tell us that the world is in our hands, and they'll do anything to help keep it there. And now I know I'm important ... I know that I matter. We all do.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wanted: More Bonding Time

Students walk and chat together between workshops.
By Carissa Eclarin (Chicago, IL.)

While we spend most of our time attending workshops, meeting with our newspaper teams, and writing, I just cannot forget and must include that SJP has oodles of fun outside the world of journalism too.

For example, today had to be the “funnest” day of camp (so far). We finally had the chance to hang out when we met up with everyone after our newspaper team meetings and took a stroll outside of our usual route.

Our destination was the hip mom-and-pop dessert shop, the Bent Spoon, for a late dinner snack. SJP students and counselors crowded the shop outside and inside. After a round of fresh gelato ice cream for everyone, the volume of our laughter and conversations hinted at the happiness and enjoyment we all had.

Everyone sat around the benches, chairs, and tables around Palmers Square. It was quality bonding time for the counselors and students. Stories were shared, laughters were exchanged, and experiences were made.

The workshops and meetings enrich our knowledge and wisdom, but we’ve also been tired from staying up late from our late schedule, and the trip to the Bent Spoon was definitely a nice relaxing treat for everyone.

I just wish we had more bonding times like this. The number of days we have left at the camp is decreasing and we are all getting closer and closer with everyone, so we need to max out the time we have left.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Principle is Principle: Reporting in North Korea

By Stephanie Zhou (Brooklyn, NY)

“Why can’t we take pictures behind the statue?” asked Brian Rokus '99, CNN producer and fellow member of the SJP family.

The North Korean official paused at the question, showing a hint of doubt. It didn’t take long for his eyes to switch gears with a stern sense of authority. “Well, principle is principle.” Clearly, North Korea runs by strict principle.

I can’t believe it’s already day four of the program. SJPers are already very familiar with Friend 109, the classroom devoted to many journalism discussions, debates, and workshops.

After breakfast, Brian Rokus delivered a workshop about foreign correspondence. He described his trip to North Korea with his boss and CNN reporter, Christiane Amanpour. He also showed us the segment that covers the New York Philharmonic's concert in Pyongyang, called “Notes from North Korea.”

North Korea is a hereditary dictatorship, led by Kim Jong-Il. North Koreans have absolutely no freedom to express themselves—no internet, no freedom to travel, and no freedom of speech, the number one right that lives on tip of a journalist’s pencil. When there is that rare occasion that the press is allowed in North Korea, reporters are required to wear a blue armband that reads "reporter."

Brian explained that the North Korean government intended to show off to the American reporters--from the grand feast for breakfast to the newspaper. The entire paper was dedicated to Kim Jong-Il, the “brilliant commander” who celebrates his birthday as a national holiday.

I found it the most interesting when he spoke about the random pedestrians CNN interviewed during their time in North Korea. Many of the people said they hated the United States. Brian explained that people in North Korea are under the impression that the United States started the Korean War and is currently the reason that Korea is still split at the 38th parallel. There was a possibility that they were only saying those things because they didn't want to get in trouble for speaking against the North Korean government. It just goes to show how much governments in different parts of the world can manipulate the power of journalism, the power to educate.

Leaning back, Brian let out a chuckle and his chair let out a squeak.

“When your teacher asks you why you couldn’t do your homework just reply, well, you know, principle is principle.”

SJP 2010 Day 1-3 Video Recap

Video by SJP '10 Counselor Eileen Shim (SJP '07 Alum/Yale '12).

A Primer in College Lectures

Professor Brian Kernighan
By Tonya Riley (Union Bridge, MD)

The stereotype of college lectures is not one that invites many positive opinions. In lieu of inspired students standing up on their desks reciting Whitman, I picture girls in letters smacking gum and the one boy in the plaid flannel dozing off.

But if movies have inspired my nightmares of the quintessential college lecture, this program has inspired my dreams of interaction and intellectualism. Yesterday we had not one, but three amazing college professors speak to us.

The morning brought us the social media guru Sree Sreenivasan. As a journalism educator at Columbia University, he was able to give us the same tips on social media he gives his graduate students. Much to our dismay, he encouraged us to professionalize our Facebook profiles in addition to using it as a place to reconnect with friends.

Our next guest was Anthony Grafton, a history professor at Princeton. Much to my relief, college history professors seem to be just as entertaining as the ones I have encountered in high school. He was able to connect to students by sharing with us the story of his parents, who as first generation citizens went through much adversity.

Rounding out the night in our amazing lecture marathon was the witty Brian Kernighan. He taught us that the media can twist the facts to promote their own opinions. In so doing, he also rounded out the lineup: three out of three lecturers yesterday were spectacular.

No Laughing in Journalism

Professor Sree Sreenivasan
By Imani Watson (Chicago, IL)

Just kidding. Actually, that couldn't be further from the truth. Journalists are often portrayed as these very intense, abrasive people. Most journalists that I know personally are quite amiable. Many forget that journalists are people too. Sure, they may be more outspoken than your average Joe, but they are people nonetheless.

Yesterday, we had a great guest speaker at breakfast, Sree Sreenivasan, a journalism educator at Columbia University. He gave us a lot of cool tips about how to use the Internet and social networking sites to our advantage. Although he is all about using these sites for professional uses, he was completely relatable and actually very funny. He had the entire room laughing.

So, yes, journalists do put in a lot of work and are very serious about their passion, but the experience should always be enjoyable for the journalist. When you can talk about your passion and make others laugh, it's priceless.

On Social Networking

Students blog in the Scully Hall common room after midnight. 
By Shaiesha Moore (Chicago, IL) 

Journalism is always changing, with a past, present and future, always evolving to present new styles and techniques. A perfect example of this evolution is this blog post. In the past, journalists wrote specifically for newspapers, but today in a world where technology is constantly producing something new, the possibilities are endless. One man who acknowledges and teaches these changes is Columbia Journalism Professor Sree Sreenivasan.

Professor Sreenivasan taught us how the creation of social networks have become the gateway to advancement in journalism. I learned how to utilize the many networking sites like, Facebook and Twitter, and the benefits they offer when used properly. As a journalist, these networking websites allow the public to produce new ideas, and new ideas lead to great stories.

The world is constantly in motion and so is journalism; we have to always be adaptable and versatile in order to become efficient journalists. Here at SJP, along with lots of sleep deprivation, we are learning just that.

The Importance of Knowing Everything

Professor Anthony Grafton is the Henry Putnam University Professor of History at Princeton.
By Charles Walker (Pasadena, CA)

When it comes to the world of journalism, we've have learned a number of things at SJP. A very important aspect of real-world journalism we've learned is to be well-versed in a variety other fields besides journalism, such as economics, math, history, and many other topics. We learned from director Richard Just '01 (Also managing editor of The New Republic) that in order to be an intellectual, an individual must be fascinated by a number of issues.

Personally, history of any sort has been true passion of mine, and I have learned that it can be used as a vital tool in being an every day columnist or reporter. Today's guest speaker was someone who greatly excited me and made me sort of see what I could be like in my future. The guest speaker was world-renowned history Professor Anthony Grafton, who contributes greatly to the humanities and the study of Western European civilizations. One particular part I enjoyed during Grafton's talk was his in-depth citations of early Western European history for an article about torture for The New Republic.

It was really an honor for me to meet someone as brilliant and prolific as Professor Grafton because of my own interest in history.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Opinion Journalism and the Challenges of Debate

Walter Keith Griffin '10 (SJP '05 Alum/SJP '07 Intern) leads the Arizona immigration law debate.
By Bianca Dennis (Atlantic City, NJ)

I think that deep down, anyone who wants to be a journalist wants to have his or her voice heard. The great thing about this program is that everyone gets that chance, and sometimes all at once.

Tonight we had SJP '05 alumnus and recent Princeton graduate Keith Griffin talk to us about opinion pieces: how to distinguish between opinions that are still journalism, and opinion pieces that don’t belong in the field.  He had us choose a topic and debate amongst ourselves. He served as the much needed referee as we discussed the recent Arizona immigration law with the team.  I was on the team against the law, and the other half of the SJPers came up with arguments supporting the law.  Long story short: it was a heated discussion with some raised voices and strong opinions, but it was an awesome experience.

Presenting a case, refuting arguments, and debating was a lot of fun, but, like a “supporter" pointed out, it can be hard to argue for something you’re against!

A New Look at New Media

 Elizabeth Gonzalez volunteers her Twitter account during the new media workshop 
By Elizabeth Gonzalez (El Paso, TX)

When someone mentions new media, the first thing that comes to mind is the Internet: how we use it in everyday life and the amount of time spent in social networking sites.

Through the New Media workshop led by Ben Crair and Tasnim Shamma, I gained a new perspective on the voice I can express online and an insight into their work experience at The Daily Beast and Newsweek. Columbia Journalism School Professor and "Tech Evangelist" Sree Sreenivasan also gave a presentation on the importance of using Twitter to stay relevant and keep in touch with the news.

I realized how important it was for newspapers and publications to be online and interact with their audiences, including our publication The Princeton Summer Journal. With social media tools, I can share intellectual information and personal views on subjects happening across the world. Though it sometimes feels like information overload, as individuals, we now have more choices and the ability to decide what is important. It's important of course, for participants in a democracy, to read a wide range of news sources and websites so that we can obtain an accurate picture of the news.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Midnight Discussions: The Insider

By Brenda Duman (Brooklyn, NY)

With the amount of walking we do to and from events, SJPers had plenty of opportunities to admire the Princeton campus and the weather on Saturday. From walking to breakfast to sitting on the steps of the Woodrow Wilson Building with my newspaper team, "The New York Times," I certainly enjoyed the forecast and simply getting to better know fellow SJPers.

Aside from the nice weather and packed schedule, we had the treat of watching a movie in the evening called The Insider. Although we arrived later than expected, SJPers settled down in the last couple of rows of a lecture hall in Friend’s Center to watch the movie.

From the opening scene to the last, we were all riveted by the story of Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino), a CBS reporter with all the characteristics of a good journalist we had discussed in the morning workshop with Richard. The movie essentially consisted of three stories: first, we find Bergman in Lebanon speaking with the Hezbollah for a 60 Minutes special; then we watch as Bergman tries to convince his informant, Jeffrey Wigand, a former chemist for a huge tobacco company, to disclose information about the wrongdoings of the tobacco industry. Finally, The Insider ends with the arrest of the Unibomber.

The movie was a great film choice because it raised many journalistic questions, from what is ethical in journalism to what you would do if you had to choose between upsetting certain (powerful) people or informing the public of a vital public health issue. In general, I would say most, if not all of us, in SJP liked the film. There were times during the movie when we gasped together, laughed together, and snapped our fingers together. (That scene with the Mississippi prosecutor had us doing all three.)

Although we were all tired by the end of the movie, we still managed to hang in there and have a group discussion about the questions raised in the film and the elements we found either realistic or unrealistic. So, a group discussion at midnight? That tells you something about the kind of people SJPers are, I’m proud to say.

Writing About Music: Big Funk

By Melina Torres (Brawley, CA)

Today marks the day when the Summer Journalism Program first started to prepare us for news writing and set us out into the world on the mission of covering our first event. We had to gather as many quotes from the audience as well as the band Big Funk, which was performing in Palmer Square, to meet our deadline.

This was a rather daunting task for some of us who either have never interviewed someone or simply fear rejection. Just going up to someone you've never met and demanding their attention can be scary. Personally, I found the audience to be quite approachable. Of course, it's easier interviewing someone in a small group rather than alone. Right away, we shot questions at the "funky jazz" band Big Funk and they were very friendly. As the band set up, families and people in the band were interacting in the park on this warm, sunny day and some individuals were even playing frisbee. Brian Rokus '99, an SJP  counselor and CNN producer, was trying to take photos of a father and son throwing the disc back and forth.

After a while though, the weather began to take a toll on us and most of us were craving ice cream from Bent Spoon, but we had to meet our deadline.

Now back to the band.

Impressively, they mostly used improvisation. The end result is soothing, spunky, melodic music. Most of us are from a generation where jazz and blues are not as popular. But, I think it's safe to say most of us enjoyed the funk genre and writing about music. Besides being musically entertaining, they also had that charisma of being visually entertaining -- the bassist had eccentric facial expressions during the performance. For the first reporting assignment at Princeton, I think it was a success!

An Enlightening Conversation

Students Yared Portillo and Alfonso Toro engage in a debate.
By Yared Portillo (Santa Maria, CA)

This morning, the counselors rushed down the hallway knocking on our doors and screaming our names for us to wake up. I was already awake. And unbelievably excited, I might add.

As we sat down for breakfast, I looked around excitedly hoping to see Greg Mancini '01, one of the program directors. The night before, Greg noticed that I was debating with Richard Just '01, another director regarding an educational situation. That moment sparked a conversation on the educational system, which was very enlightening. It was the moment I realized I was truly surrounded by great intellectuals.

Greg had agreed to show me and a fellow classmate a book on advisories during breakfast, since we had talked to him about an advisory we were forming at our often disparaged school. As I saw the evidence and perspective Greg brought to our conversation -- I was struck. Is this what Princeton had to offer? If so, Princeton was slowly moving up on my list of favorite schools.

Our suspicions of what a great environment it would be were confirmed as we went on to talk to Richard about our observations in education as we walked to dinner soon, Richard had agreed to put us in touch with a woman who could address our educational questions. Princeton came with hook-ups too!

My growing love for Princeton reached a peak when I learned that today we would learn to make our own documentaries!