22 05

Thunderstorms and Press Junkets: Wednesday, May 22, 2024

By Jared Stokes from New Saint Andrews College

My phone alarm chirps next to my head and I roll over on the top bunk to see Ryan doing a pretty good imitation of a corpse stumbling out of the room. I’ve gotten anywhere between one and six hours of sleep; there’s no way of telling.

The boys steadily file into the bathroom where we listlessly stand in front of mirrors going through the motions of the usual morning routine. As 8:30 rolls around, I follow the strung-out horde of college kids to the classrooms for our first lesson of what will inevitably be another fourteen-hourday.

Sioux Center, Iowa is a far cry from my hometown. The familiar forests spilling over the hills, mountains soaked in clouds, and hipsters wearing Patagonia are nowhere to be found in the small town surrounded by fields. Instead, I see quiet, green suburbs with old trees that form canopies over the wide open streets. The nights in Sioux boast terrific thunderstorms, with the occasional afternoon downpour.

But despite the unfamiliar weather and unbroken horizon, the most surprising part of this adventure is the community of young, dedicated journalists like myself. WJI’s program has brought together people who, for once, have the same ambitions as me. We are all storytellers who, if even for a brief period, have gathered in this small town to hone our craft together. We attend classes, press junkets, late-night Walmart runs, and overall get very little sleep—ultimately bringing us much closer than I ever thought possible of the program.

As I get lost in the labyrinthine halls of Dordt University’s campus on the way to class, I thank God for bringing me to this place. He provided mentors to guide me and peers to listen to court transcripts with, something I didn’t know I was looking for. But it’s something I will take with me forever.