My essay

As the tri-tone bell signaled the end of recess, my heart began pounding in my chest. It was no ordinary end of a Monday: it was time for Newspaper class. Looking back on that typically German, grey, cloudy day almost 8 years ago, I realize, it was that afternoon that defined all my decisions up until the past few days of my senior year.

I slowly walked up the daunting steps of the European School’s administrative office and headed to an interview; my first of many to come.

That day, I was speaking with Tom Høyem, our principal and the former minister of Greenland. For a moment during the interview, I thought words would elude me, but then, I pulled out my notebook and pen and began asking questions. Since then, I’ve never stopped.

Unfortunately, not all my questions were ones that could be answered in a single interview. I’ve spent my life questioning decisions made in my community both in Germany and after moving to America.

I’ve always known that community, inclusivity, and communication mean everything to me, so high school naturally became about putting it all together.

In my sophomore year, I found everything I was looking for. From the moment I walked into the newspaper production room as an editor, I felt at home. I moved between sections, writing about news, sports, opinion, and everything in between. I left space and time behind as I drowned out the production room noise around me to make technical corrections to AP style and grammar on my pages. When I felt inspired by a visual again, I put my studio art skills to use and shifted back over to my Adobe Illustrator tab to continue working on my newest graphic design spread, and then I moved to my neighbor’s seat to pull broken columns of text and over-exposed photos back to order.

Finally, when I’d exhausted all my production room tasks, I spent my time researching what I could about the history of student journalism and student press law to occupy the time I had remaining.

I learned to thrive in the same buzzing chaos I’d been taught to avoid all my life. As long as I stuck to the greater purpose of telling people’s stories, I found an oasis in the in-betweens. It was as though all my constraints had been lifted, and for the first time in my life, I could find the answers to a lifetime's worth of questions, explore a lifetime’s worth of passions without anyone telling me to stick to one discipline.

That’s when it all made sense. The reason I loved the newsroom was because it synthesized my passions for change, activism, advocacy, writing, and art in a way that allowed me to finally explore them all.

I hope to work within the intersection of media, writing, and politics in order to step into the political climate and begin to repair our rapidly crumbling system. Fighting polarisation with information allows me to fight ever-growing obscurity with light and clarity. My time on The Spoke has equipped me with the hard skills I will need to continue my fight. I still think back to my first day, walking into that bustling newsroom that came to be my home, feeling too intimidated and shy to speak. While I initially wasn’t sure if it was the place for me, it’s where I found a voice with which I could represent myself and others.

Even though it took me until my sophomore year to feel truly comfortable in a room filled with so much passion and non-acceptance of the worries that plague today’s climate, I am grateful that I didn’t falter. In the midst of discomfort with interviews and disagreement with administration, I found in myself the strength to walk through it all with my love for the art of journalism. One day, I wish to expose the beauty of human dignity and compassion that Isobel Yeung unearthed in Syria. I want to learn to compose myself with the grace of Abby Phillip in the face of the racism that will inevitably rear its ugly head. I hope to walk with the bravery of Jamal Khashoggi, who spent his last moments searching for freedom and truth, despite knowing his life was in danger. Beyond learning what a journalist needs to know, I hope to walk away from the next four years of my life having started becoming the journalist I wish to be.

 

But, for now, I find my inspiration in the reporters around me. My fellow staff members stood by my side, weathering the largest staff we’ve ever had, creating issues in a pandemic, and speaking truth to power the whole time. I may have walked into my first interview alone. I may have even walked into The Spoke room alone. I leave a part of a global community that will never stop fighting to make all of our voices heard.

2/22/2021 Update: *Addition to awards and achievements. I won second place for news photography at the PNA awards.