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Posts Tagged ‘journalist’

I came across this quote the other day courtesy of @youquotedquotes via Twitter:

Dream no small dreams, for they have no power to stir the souls of men.

-Victor Hugo

I would say this is right in line with our thinking. In the early stages of our trip, Sommer was joking around (as usual) and said, “Dream big or go home.” And that’s pretty much how we roll. There’s no point in stopping yourself from trying something because you’re not sure you can do it. Also, Sommer and I are journalists because we want to impact people and ideally present stories that act as a catalyst for positive change.

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Our destination remains the same. We’re going to Romania. The journey, however, involves a few more twists than anticipated.

For those who have been following along with the blog, we’ve blogged about putting together this trip through one main contact. I have yet to blog about our story ideas, but some of our key stories are “Then and Now” features that will chronicle the experiences of some of the children who grew up in the orphanage system. They are children that our non-profit contact has been in touch with and can get us in touch with for interviews and pictures. Last week that contact expressed some concern over her ability to take the trip in March. We were quick to discover that was just fancy talk for postpone.

So we were left with two options: fly solo or postpone until the summer. And out came the pros and cons lists.

Cons of Postponing: We wouldn’t be going now, and although Romania isn’t exactly a “Spring Break! Woohoo!” kind of place, it was our plan for spring break. And we knew that changing our tickets would be a costly inconvenience. We didn’t realize HOW costly and HOW inconvenient until yesterday, but we knew it wouldn’t be a party to get that all sorted.

Pros: We’d be able to travel with someone who can get us access to places that were indispensable to our reporting (which was our biggest concern). We could spend the next few months building our network in Romania, learning more about Romania and writing several relevant preview stories, expand and update our blog (I’m going to buy a flip camera so we can have some fun with that and post videos), and search for more grants and seek more financing for the trip.

We mulled over our lists earlier this week in the convergent newsroom at SMU. Journalism Chair Tony Pederson saw us through the glass doors and popped in to say hello (or ask me to stop loitering around campus–one of the two). We laid it all out for him and got his opinion.

He told us to wait, which was the same thing we heard from other seasoned journalists, family and friends.  Feeling a bit defeated, I turned to Lindsey and said next time we’ll be sure not to work with only one contact.

Pederson laughed.

I turned to him and said, “I guess we’re learning a pretty obvious lesson?”

With a knowing smile on his face, he said we’re learning to be journalists.

And I guess that’s the point of this whole thing. Yes, we’re passionate about the stories we’re covering and we’re dedicated to producing some really great quality work. But we also know this is going to be somewhat of a test run. The first adventure of many to come.

And although Perkins and I are supposed to be in the air right now, we will be come June, and we’ll keep updating the blog until then (with more pictures and more video, too). So keep reading. I plan on becoming increasingly interesting as time goes by.

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Here are several reasons we’re doing this whole project:

  1. We know that there are good stories surrounding the Romanian orphanages, stories that need to be heard.
  2. We have a contact that can introduce us to the people there (and Sommer’s already met some of them).
  3. We received some financial help from SMU. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have the funds to do a project of this magnitude.
  4. This experience will be invaluable no matter what happens. We will be better journalists by the end of it, even if everything goes wrong once we get there. I’ve already learned a lot, and we haven’t even left! Experience really is the best learning tool.
  5. We love to travel.
  6. We hope to get our names out there and network. Maybe there’s even a job in our future (I can dream, right?). At the very least, we’ll take a “I need a reporter/photographer an assignment. What about those girls that went to Romania? I wonder what they’re up to…”
  7. We would like to get published in major publications, too (a common goal among journalists). Can you say crash course in freelancing?
  8. It will be fun.
  9. Why not?

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We’re honestly not sure how it got to this point, but we’re less than one month away from leaving for Romania.

That’s not completely true. We know exactly how we got here. But I guess in the midst of preparing we’re sometimes overwhelmed, and it suddenly seems like this all came at us out of nowhere.

Subconsciously, though, I think Lindsey and I have been planning this trip since the day we met freshman year of high school. We’ve repeatedly joked about taking over the world through our writing and our photos. I’m not so sure we’ll be successful at taking anything over, but I do think there is hope for our plan to help bring the world to life. We are going to travel to Romania and tell the stories that will make their world a part of our world (because last time I checked, we’re all sharing one world).

Two years ago, I was a Maguire Center for Ethics summer intern. I worked with Humanity United in Giving (HUG) Internationally, an organization that aids Romanian orphanages. I was fortunate enough to travel to Romania and spend two weeks working with the children. Instantly I recognized there are stories to be told. And we’re going to tell them.

This trip is happening for several reasons. Lindsey and I are journalists. We’re not studying to be journalists. We don’t want to be journalists when we grow up. We’re journalists and we want to report on what we know is a newsworthy region with newsworthy events. Plus, we love adventure (an addiction nourished by Lindsey’s time in Copenhagen and my time in London). And it might just be me—but two weeks in a foreign land with not much more than paper, pens (and pencils in case it rains) and a camera sounds pretty damn adventurous. And we applied and received a grant from the SMU Meadows Exploration Fund that will partially finance our trip. All of that—plus our overly ambitious, youthful natures—has brought us to this point. 23 days to departure.

On my trip two years ago, I bought one souvenir for myself. It was a t-shirt that read “Sail right into the storm across the ocean.” Honestly, I doubt the random Romanian T-shirt shop owner had any idea what the words on the shirt meant, but Lindsey and I thought the expression “sail right into the storm” was fitting. We’re sailing right into all of this.

Luckily, we both know how to swim.

–sommer

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