New People, New Dreams

Write about a significant experience in your life.

“I think we’re lost,” I said to my parents as I stood on the corner of 114th Street and Broadway carrying a large bag of luggage. I stopped confused as to where I was going. I knew I was close; I could tell by the number of people wearing Columbia University t-shirts. I continued to walk down Broadway and at last I saw the iron gates with two gold crowns sitting on top of the black metal posts. As I made my way through the gates, I knew I had arrived at my destination. The freshly cut grass and blooming flowers filled the air and emotions started to run through me; I was nervous to be in New York City alone, yet anxious to be at such a prestigious university with the potential to learn so much about journalism.Instead of relaxing for my first week of summer, I decided to increase my knowledge of journalism and attend CSPA’s Journalism workshop at Columbia University. At the time I arrived, I was unaware of the impact those five days would have on me. Being surrounded by so many people from all over the world, not only helped to increase my interest in the journalism field, but also taught me about different people as well as myself.At the end of freshman year, I enrolled in journalism because I was looking for an extra English class; I did not know much about it. As I went through the class my interest level grew and by June I knew that it was something I wanted to pursue. Knowing that, I decided to sign up for journalism camp along with five other of my fellow staffers. As I went through three classes a day, I had become inspired by the instructor as well as the other students. I looked at other students’ newspapers and saw a lot of good ideas that could make our award-winning paper even better. Not only did camp help me with my journalism skills but also with getting along with the other staff members. Throughout my first year of journalism I did well yet I was not as sociable as I should have been. The class was composed of mostly juniors and seniors which somewhat intimidated me; however, journalism camp helped me to get over the intimidation I felt. By attending class and spending time with two of the juniors I did not know, I made new friends which ultimately made journalism easier and more fun in September. Camp not only gave me the motivation to do better, but also gave me close friends. Growing up in Danbury, I have known diversity all my life; however, I believe it is an ‘identical diversity’ with people from the same place who have the same views. We are essentially all the same. Going to journalism camp opened my eyes; I was surrounded with people from all fifty states, and even several countries. I saw many differences between myself and people from other regions of the country that I had not believed possible. The students in the Page Editing class, had an assignment to do while there, a personality profile on another student. I was paired with Alex, a student from California who attended a Christian private school. He was very into his religion and even attended a service while at camp. When I interviewed Alex, he said he cared more about his religion than school. I was astounded because most teenagers I’ve met care more about getting into college than going to a weekly service. His devotion to religion was inspiring; although, I am not a religious person Alex showed me that it is important to be dedicated to something you love. He inspired me to uptake the duties of Business Manager, and to really commit myself to journalism, something I had not done before. Interacting with people who are different than me and my friends is enlightening because it gives me a wider perspective of the world and inspires me to do things I would not have done otherwise. Although I was astounded about the differences, the fact that we had so much in common was even more astounding. There were several unifying traits among us all. All of us are teenagers who are dealing with the same issues. On the second night, I had become close with Soranie, a girl from Michigan. We talked about everything from our classes to our home life. She and I had several similarities. My parents used to be strict; they wanted me home by a certain time which would bother me. When I was talking to Soranie she had also gone through the same thing with her parents the year before; however, she had a talk with them which led them to ease up. I did the same when I got home and it worked. I learned that a lot of teens think it’s only happening to them but really they’re not alone; all teens are dealing with the same issues. I believe that knowledge is not only learned in school but also through experiences and by interacting with people who have different ideas and beliefs. By spending a week away at Columbia University with students from across the country I was able to increase my knowledge significantly; not only in the journalism aspect, but by interacting with students and learning from our differences as well as our similarities. After journalism camp I felt more aware of my surroundings. I had more knowledge overall. Journalism camp was not just about learning journalism, it was about learning from your peers as well as learning from yourself.

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