Sunday, August 11, 2013

Reliving the Memories

Ellen Pham (Tampa, Florida) 
I woke up today to a depressing realization; there is only one more day left of SJP. This past week and a half has been incredible. I had the chance to visit three new states, try different types of food, go to my first baseball game, watch my favorite football team play live (from the press box, no less), learn more about my passion, and meet some of the most interesting people I've ever met. 

I've grown attached to Princeton and to the wonderful counselors and to my SJP peers. I know that goodbyes are inevitable. I know that the trip to Newark Airport will be emotional. But I know that SJP is so much more than 10 days learning at one of the best universities in the world. It's a community of friendly, open-minded people who have an insatiable thirst for knowledge. Remembering this makes leaving tomorrow a little more bearable. 

SJP has been filled with so many memorable moments.

Covering the Trenton Thunder game was exhilarating. We had to walk up to strangers and ask them about their feelings about performance enhancing drugs. I'm naturally very introverted, so this experience forced me to step out of my comfort zone. I loved it. I felt like I was witnessing history take place as I watched Alex Rodriguez prepare to bat. I would later find out that my inklings were right. A few days after the game, the infamous man donning 13 on his jersey was controversially suspended by Major League Baseball. 

One of my favorite parts about the program was breaking up into newspaper teams. I would always look forward to our poignant discussions about government, the value of privacy and the future of journalism. Even though we could have talked about superficial topics, we always somehow gravitated towards serious, weighty subjects. I didn't mind at all. In fact, I was glad. At the beginning of the program, Richard Just, one of the program directors, said that "journalists are intellectuals." I didn't truly understand what he meant when he said that. Why is it important to be interested in everything? Why is it worth it to question our own opinions? Thanks to my amazing newspaper team (Go Wall Street Journal!) and our mentally stimulating conversations, I understand what Richard means now. 

All of the speakers were fantastic. SJP takes a liberal arts approach when inviting speakers so in addition to learning how to write an accurate news story, I also learned about subjects such as anthropology, statistics, history and sociology. I have a strong interest in politics so I loved hearing from Alec MacGillis about his experience writing about campaigns. His honest, vivid descriptions about working with Al Gore were absolutely hilarious! 

It's easy to feel alone pursuing journalism in my high school. My newspaper staff is smaller than I would like and the majority of students don't care about the news. To make matters worse, most of the people I'm surrounded by think journalism is a dying career. Frankly, it's not exactly the most conducive environment for a budding journalist. But here at SJP I don't feel so alone. It gives me hope that I can succeed in this transforming industry.

I feel so unbelievably blessed and grateful to be a part of this wonderful program. 

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