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WJMC Day One!?!

Day one kicked off by meeting some amazing kids from around the country. It was cool to learn a little bit about other high schoolers just like me and while we live in the same country, we have very different lives. But one thing is true that we all have similar interests in journalism and media and that’s what has brought us together to hear amazing speakers: the first being Tina Rosenberg.

Tina is a paving-the-way kind of person. She is the co-founder and is still actively involved in Solutions Journalism, which is something I had never heard of until today. It exists to help the world respond to social issues and how to help. Tina was a great speaker and although she did share some political views, it was not in an overbearing way and she certainly gave credit to the other party’s members. One question still remains, however.

Ms. Rosenberg mentioned that she was not a fan of president Clinton during his presidency because of his lack of response to helping poor countries cure their own AIDS epidemics. She said that the Clinton Administratin put too much pressure on these poor countries to make/buy/sell the drugs to cure the disease (I’m guessing to buy them from the US) so that Brazil was the only poor country to effectively help this cause. But now Ms. Rosenberg is in favor of the Clintons??? What changed in the Clinton Administration that led to your change in views Ms. Rosenberg? Certainly something that did not happen during the presidency of Bill Clinton, which can be argued as the most influential position in America and maybe even the world? And probably not some of the scandals now in question of Hillary? Yes I am aware that these are two different people that have different ideas in mind, but they certainly must influence each other and the rest of the world by their choices.

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National (Mall) Disaster and True Friends

If you’re a true American, nothing is as exciting as walking around your nation’s Capitol and seeing all the people that allow us to live our free lives: some being the senators representing every state in the USA. I was fortunate enough to meet with my senator’s legislative correspondant to learn a little bit more about her perspective on politics, how she got the job, and some of her lucky opportunities. Before I had even stepped into her office, however, I had to find my way through the curvy corridors and cool architecture of the Russell Senate office building. Luckily I had the guidance of the nice security officer or else I would have totally missed my meeting! In fact, I wish I could have stayed a little longer and had the guts to look at more of the building, although I probably would have been asked what I was doing and shown the door. Ms. Kennedy, John McCain’s legislative correspondant, said they usually keep a confidentiality agreement with any meetings, so I can’t say too much, but not unlike many of the speakers at WJMC, her story of coming to the Hill began with internships and good timing. The key to so many of these successful people’s stories lies in the timing of their persistence to an issue and they like to emphasize how lucky they became with those opportunities. Unfortunately, my timing was not too good that day.

The park next to the senate building may have been just as beautiful as the building itself, so I decided to sit on a bench and admire the beauty while I was waiting to hear from a few friends on where to meet them when I was finished with my meeting. They had gone to the American History Museum which was on the complete opposite side of the National Mall as my meeting, so I just decided to start walking towards that end of the mall. They texted me that they were almost done and we’re going to let me know where to meet for lunch so I kept walking closer to the museum. It took me about 40 minutes to get closer to that end, but then I realized I really needed to use the restroom. It took me about another 15 minutes to find a place that I could just slip in and use the restroom, which happened to be a Starbucks, but then I had to buy something to get the code for the bathroom. Starbucks is always crowded so I had to wait even longer to get my drink and use the bathroom, ugh! I finally got an address on where to meet up for lunch, but didn’t realize I was walking in the wrong direction for 10 minutes. I guess I’m really bad with directions or my phone’s GPS wasn’t working properly because it took me a total of 1 1/2 hours to find them. Now the National Mall is huge and it isn’t that hard to get lost and end up walking around forever! Oh and I didn’t mention that it was 95 degrees with 80% humidity and we had to wear business clothes so I wore terrible shoes for walking and by the time I met up with the girls none of us wanted to do anything. Sadly we decided to just go to the Air and Space museum to sit and wait for our group to leave because that was the set meeting place. I spent over 3 hours of constant walking and I didn’t get to visit a single museum I was interested in or get any souvenirs. And street cart hot dogs are gross!

Fortunately day five became so much better when we all went to the gala and danced our shoes off, literally. The girls kicked our shoes under the table and danced until the music stopped. Our group was the first on the dance floor and the last to leave. We really showed how close we had become when we spent all night with each other even though they were 200 other kids there. I will miss these people so much and look forward to our five year reunion! Thank you WJMC for the amazing experience. #21shadesofgray

 

Rollercoaster

While day four didn’t begin with Mr. Richard Craig of George Mason University, I wanted to begin with him as I want to remember his session and how I realized how sheltered I feel in my hometown. Mr. Craig is a very well educated African American male and this proved to start many of our discussions in this session. The kids that decided to come to this classroom instead of the others also really helped in developing my views. This group of inquisitive and educated students had a variety of ethnicities including African American, Asian, and Latina individuals. With the diversity in this classroom, I was able to really see different points of view as we listened to Richard Craig’s take on pop culture influencing the future. Mr. Craig has spent much of this life studying this kind of influence and has determined that today’s media can control the types of stories released in certain areas and as a result, we are shaped by the media around us without knowing. Mr. Craig wishes us to simply challenge the storytellers of today’s mainstream media and to change the message so that all people can be equally educated.

Today was by far the most emotional and insightful day of all. I didn’t realize how heart-wrenching photos could be and Carol Guzy certainly showed perspective. I didn’t see a dry eye around me as the lights went down and we began watching some of Carol’s greatest work. From Haiti, to Sierra Leone, to Hurricane Katrina, and to many unnamed places around the world, Mrs. Guzy knows how to capture the most incredible photos you have ever seen.

Carol Guzy is truly just as incredible as the photos she captures. She shared with us that every time a photographer takes a picture, a piece of their soul is released as they learn to capture views from all walks of life. Mrs. Guzy wants people to understand that while we must “build a bridge of empathy” between photographed and subject, it is important to tell the stories of those who may not be able to do so  she wishes us to keep the inquisitive eyes of a child in order to find these messages and send them to the world. I didn’t want our time to end as the lights came back on and we thanked Carol for sharing her stories, but the life of a photojournalist carries on and I can’t wait to follow her future work.

 

#Obalmonds

Jour trois although very long was filled with many inspirational speakers-as well as the other days of this conference lol! My favorite speaker of the day suprisingly is a three-way tie! Susan Goldberg, Brian Lamb, and Mike Shear were all so enthusiastic about their jobs and really knew how to connect with us kids on a more personal level. It must have been through their years of experience and many speaking opportunities that they each knew how to really nail their talks.

Susan Goldberg showed both heart-warming and heart-wrenching pictures from her many successful years at National Gerographic as an Editor in Chief and a former photojournalist. She explained how to tell a story through one’s work by making a difference and doing what others can’t. She also mentioned that while knowing who you are, be part of the conversation while acting urgently. Nat Geo must have incredible resources to achieve the surreal photos and stories that they do. I was especially blown away by the clarity of the photos and how someone can get that amazing picture without disturbing the surrounding environment.

Brian Lamb of C-Span was probably the most engaging of the speakers as he would walk up to us to ask questions and really try to find the root our answers. He would listen to our comments while only revealing his bias a few times and just to show a different point of view. I was a little nervous when he started asking us questions about our preferred presidential candidate and why, but he made sure that nothing became too heated and that most people could explain themselves. I am constantly surprised at how much “hate” for certain nominees and parties arise from high schoolers considering that 95% of us can’t even vote, nonetheless it was interesting to hear difference of opinions from students across the United States and even Puerto Rico! Brian Lamb did a good job of prodding a specific thought, but not to the extent that it was annoying because he just wanted to make sure we could back up our own statements.

I’ll be honest that I didn’t listen to Mike Shear’s whole spiel, but what I did hear was interesting because he talked about things that we could relate to as teenagers. He revealed his resilience to fight the White House to  get the access for the best news stories possible and his beliefs that the press had a right to report. He emphasized to push back becuase there’ll always be resistance to any reporter getting the real story. He also mentioned that journalists have a responsibility to set their opinions aside when revealing the story. Journalism should be without bias, but often the complete opposite is what ends up happening. Everything is about relationships and trusting those around you becuase they will most likely be the ones helping you with your career. #Obalmonds

WJMC Day Dos

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Today we got to meet the lovely, inspirational Hoda Kotb! Wow! I had watched Hoda on the Today show occasionally, but had no idea how enthusiastic she is! Please ignore the random head in the picture above, lol. Hoda has this way of speaking where she is serious, but likes to have a fun time while sharing her story. I’d like to share some of what I thought were her most memorable quotes from today; some will be paraphrased as I cannot remember exactly:

1. Do what you love and try to get paid for it; then it isn’t work at all

2. Ask for something you want and think you deserve because the worst someone can say is no

3. You only need ONE person to believe in you, not everybody

 

When explaining quote number one, Hoda made sure to emphasize to do what YOU love to do. Don’t do something just because your parents tell you to or because your friends say it’s the smart choice. Pick something you are passionate about and then if you can make a living from that one thing, it isn’t work at all, but simply something you love doing.

Quote number two makes me have a sense of selfconfidence.  Asking questions is a part of life and if you can’t ask for anything, how can you expect to get anywhere or do anything you’ve ever dreamed of? The worst that can happen is that you have to keep on keeping on so that when the opportunity presents itself, you’ll be ready. We all deserve something great, but if you’re too timid or unsure of yourself to pursue that goal, nothing will ever happen.

The final quote was what inspired me the most. One person can change your life for the better. One person can take you to new heights that you never dreamed were possible. That one person is all you need to become whoever it is that you’re destined to become. Sure most of us just go through life as a people-pleaser, but how can you change the world if you’re always in agreement with everybody and never speak up? You don’t need to be the most popular person to become successful or have the most friends. Sometimes all it takes is that one influential and inspirational person to open new doors and help you get to where you belong. You just have to open your eyes and see your believer.

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