I can’t believe it’s over.
On May 20th, I pulled into the parking lot at Dordt expecting to spend the next two weeks dying a horrifyingly painful death at the hands of journalism. With 15 days of WJI looming ahead, I was terrified, and it didn’t feel like we’d ever be at the end. But here we are, we made it, and now I don’t want to say goodbye.
I’ve been in the radio broadcast track, so this morning, I spent an hour working with an editor on my script before recording my podcast voiceover. The media lab was packed—all of us in the broadcast track were frantically trying to pull together our pieces for the 4:30 p.m. showcase.
I managed to survive the first 14 days of WJI with zero emotional breakdowns, but alas, today I broke that streak. My audio piece was majorly stressing me out, so I went outside and sat down in the grass under a tree. It really was beautiful out—sunny, breezy, and 70 degrees. It took a little while, but I eventually decided that the world was NOT ending, and I could go in and finish editing my piece. I somehow ended up with dirt from the tree all over my arms, but ah well, it added to the experience.
Before lunch, we all headed in to the final “Pitts’ P’s” lecture. I’m going to miss those—Lee Pitts tells best stories. We are now all very sad that Taco Cid is permanently closed.
Dinner felt so strange…our last meal in the dining hall! They still had ice cream left from the Memorial Day BBQ though, so I’m going to count that as a win.
Around 7:00 p.m., we split into two groups and got to watch/listen to each other’s pieces. I loved getting to see what everyone had been working on all week, but there’s definitely still a special place in my heart for radio.
After a final wrap up where we all got certificates and t-shirts, we piled into the Dordt vans one last time. “PARTY AT PITTS’” was the last official event of WJI. We played games, baked cookies, and Adel found a really creepy doll.
I couldn’t have asked for a better end to an incredible two weeks…it’s just too bad we can’t come back and do it all again next year.
The Dordt University Media Lab was filled with WJI students this morning, but the room was quiet. Everyone’s eyes were focused on their monitors and their ears were covered with headphones. Occasionally, I overheard a student discussing their news story with an instructor. We’re all scrambling to get our broadcast projects done as the week wraps up.
We’re taking our assignments seriously…well, as seriously as we can.
Lauren is behind me editing video of a baby cow rubbing her leg. Michaela’s reviewing the stand-up she filmed in a bathroom stall. I’ve spent the last hour watching videos of domino chain reactions.
I sat back in my chair and laughed to myself. Journalists have the coolest job! We can do the wackiest things and call it work. Journalism is the field of work that can explore all other fields. We can be curious and creative and cover all sorts of news topics. And in the process, gain all kinds of life experiences.
Lauren wouldn’t have played with the little calf if she wasn’t working on a story about GPS collars for cow. If not for her story on the uses of human waste in energy and fertilizer, Michaela would have missed her once in a lifetime chance to play with manure (ok, so maybe that’s an experience she could have passed on). I learned something about the world of dominos because I wrote a podcast profile about two domino artists.
Journalism can be stressful. It’s a lot of work. It’s also important work. We are truth-tellers shining a light on the dark alleys of the world. We cover stories about church conflicts, pro-life clinics, and education policies.
But we can also tell fun stories. We don’t always have to take ourselves so seriously. Sometimes we need to just sit back and enjoy the opportunities our line of work gives us.
- Anna Allen
Today was my favorite afternoon and evening of WJI. Being part of a track has been such a blessing this week. I am part of the Feature team, and we have completed most of our reporting and are breaking ground in writing. I tend to enjoy the research and reporting process so much more than the writing process because I’m scared of putting pen to paper. This fear is mostly rooted in perfectionism and a tad rooted in uncertainty. I want what I write to be perfect… I have learned that is impossible. Perfection use to be the standard expectation I held for myself. Thankfully that unrealistic standard has dropped down to human-doing-her-best-while-growing-in-faith. Because of this life lesson, and after announcing that I was so nervous to my cohort, I read, aloud, my feature rough draft. It was very, very imperfect, but the world kept turning. I also grew a couple more centimeters as a writer.
After dinner, we all enjoyed bowling, pool, foosball, and air hockey on campus. Do all college campuses have bowling allies or is this a Midwest thing? Anyways, I discovered I’m a master pool player (I guess trig really did help me in the real world). Then, all of us went to the evening bonfire. My inner child always comes out around fire which concerned most everyone, but none were harmed.
The most special part of the bonfire was the Q&A with Lee Pitts. Someone seriously needs to write a biography on this guy’s life. His ability to craft stories in speech rivals his talents with written words. My favorite story was about him meeting his wife, Elizabeth. I laughed hard when he got to the part of the intern. Long story short, Pitts hired an intern who was not quite cut out to be a journalist. Part of me wants to know her name and see how’s she doing in this world…I’m very concerned with her logical wellbeing.
Once the Q&A ended, hymns were passed around for a time of worship. Every time I’m with a group of people huddled around fire singing songs, I think about all the people who came before us and did this very thing. People for centuries have gathered around fire. In this era, it’s become a special experience. A place for people to commune and fellowship. I could not be more thankful for this evening of fellowship and laughter.
Thanks so much,
- Ava Woodward
This morning was different from the previous mornings that started strictly at 9 a.m. with a long, LONG day of classes ahead. Today across the program, students went out to report. Some went to a farm to play in manure for the sake of good TV (see Michaela and Alex for that), or to Orange City to be rejected by the police (see Anna M.), or on a ride-along with the Iowa Department of Transportation (energy-drink fueled Aiden), or any of the countless other places around what I used to think was a small area of rural Iowa. The news team got a delivery to campus of a newspaper containing their bylines from stories they wrote on Memorial Day celebrations.
For my own morning adventure, I walked over a mile to the Guiding Star Siouxland Pregnancy and Women's Health Center. After my interview with the director of that center, I walked outside to figure out if someone could drive me back to campus in time for our sacrosanct 11 a.m. Pitt's Ps session.
Well. I was on my own. So I started the 25 minute walk back to campus through what felt to me to be an idyllic slice of suburban heaven. Although a pleasant walk in the sunshine, I was going to be exceptionally late to basically the only required event of the day. As I called my mom to tell her about my struggles (as one does) a large red pick-up truck pulled up next to me on the side of the road.
I avoid eye-contact and tense as I keep walking, as is my custom when large trucks slow down next to me on the side of the road. Then I hear a gruff voice call out "Hey! Are you with WJI?!" I slowly turned my head, and was relieved to see Mr. Ron who I met at church on Sunday. He asked if I needed a ride and I said, "Actually, yes, I was supposed to be at Dordt 5 minutes ago." I quickly hung up with my mom so she wouldn't hear me getting into the car with someone she would perceive to be a perfect stranger. I shuffled into the Pitt's P session only 10 minutes late.
Mine is just one single story of the crazy fun things that can happen when 28 young journalists descend upon northwest Iowa. Seriously, pick ANYONE and they have done something or talked to someone cool.
Getting sad it's almost over.