Annual Reflection: Becoming a Junior

Sometimes you’ll be doing something you don’t want to do and you end up finding something inspirational whilst doing it. Then you feel inspired and you have to write, even if it’s been such a long time. And it’s tradition. 
Hey, everybody! Man, I haven’t blogged in ages! I think the blog is collecting virtual dust! Look, there goes a virtual dust bunny!
But anyway, I’ve got lots – LOTS to tell ya.
Over the summer, I was granted the opportunity – well, following an application process – to be part of the James Ansin/Peace Sullivan High School Workshop for Journalism and New Media, a completely free program held every summer at the local University of Miami in which twenty or so high school students are brought in to live in the campus’ freshman dorms for three weeks, during which they’re given access to the University’s School of Communication and produce a newspaper of their own, with a central theme binding the publication’s twenty or so stories (at least one per student), replete with student photographs and design input. In recent years, audio and video work has also become a part of the workshop’s curriculum, extending its length by about a week (it used to be only less than two weeks) and allowing students to partake in the new dynamic of journalism – web video. Based on their written stories, and the people they’ve interviewed along the way, the students make short documentary style web videos about eligible stories.
Not only all this, they’re also taught by former journalists and current UM professors, video editors, as well speakers regarding the topic(s) they write their stories about (our topic this year was the Jan. 12 Haiti earthquake). And to top it off, field trips to the local newspaper and TV station are included. 
Did I also mention free food? Well that too. 
I feel privileged – truly privileged – to have attended this workshop. It was life-changing, a quality of the workshop they’d advised us about from day one. 
Sure, it meant three weeks away from home – only somewhat though, since I live biking distance from the University – but it was worth it. I made unforgettable friends – from cocoa butter loving Mupi, to seasoned video producer and editor Stoltz, as well as award-winning Haley and concert-loving Melissa. 
My interest in journalism only grew larger – interviewing people from my local neighbor to a geology professor in Mexico, dealing with the frustration from multiple rewrites to my story, learning about ethics, understanding the importance of story, and what makes a good one … it was a beautiful, truly beautiful experience. 
To see our work, visit
And of course, one of the highlights was dorm life. We were spread out across two floors – boys and girls – but the fact that we were freely able to walk out into the hallways and down into the second floor at eleven o’ clock at night made it very thrilling. 
It was like a little town – downstairs was Haley’s Internet Café (she was the only one with a laptop), next door was Danny’s Space Pudding Restaurant (some weird chocolate/peanut mix, I think, that she always shared with everyone); across the hall was Mupi’s Arcade (he’d brought a 60-inch television and an XBOX 360, complete with a Logitech sound system). 
It was a world I’d like to live in – truly a taste of college life – and fortunately, despite all these distractions, I stayed focused and concentrated on writing the best story yet. 
Yes, that’s me. Did I ever give that blanket back?
Luckily, so was everyone else, which only added to the experience – I was surrounded by people who shared my love of journalism, my love of talking to people, my love of writing, my love of making the best end product possible. That’s something you don’t always get in school, but here, dedication was alive and well. 
And so now, being only a week away from the first day of junior year, rushing just a healthy bit to finish my summer assignments on time, I take my five-minute break, sip on a nice, refreshing, ice-cold can of Coke, and I think about coming back to school. After the workshop, I feel like there’s so much more I can come to school with now. Of course, I can bring new ideas to my TV Production/Journalism class – as you can well imagine, I learned a plethora of skills and concepts I knew little to nothing about beforehand – but there’s a social component too. 
Experiencing dorm life was as beneficial from the workshop as was the “work” part of it. I got to talk to awesome people, but more importantly, people of just one or two years older that went to high schools in the next county (only four from the group went to a local high school). 
That small age difference, as numerically insignificant as it is, showed quite the leap in personality, in maturity, and in knowledge in these older peers of mine. Upon talking to them, I realized that they were already driving, working, having more “committed” relationships … regular stuff you expect seniors and juniors to do and sophomores and freshmen to wish they could do, right? 
Sure. But it’s just so unbelievably amazing – to me personally – how, at age 16, you could be eating dinner every night at the dinner table with your parents, riding bike to school, and having to come back home before 10; and only two years later, at age 18, you could be driving a car to school three-fourths of the year, and to work during the summer; paying for your cell phone bill, picking up friends from their houses or from their two-day parties and riding to the beach at your considerable leisure. 
Isn’t it just amazing how fast we grow up? I for one will be sticking to the humble bicycle transportation option for now, but regardless – I wouldn’t be surprised if I see a report in the Herald tomorrow regarding how fast this generation (whatever its name is) is growing! It’s crazy! Absolutely mindblowing. 
My friend and I, for example, have been soul searching for a while, and so I often reflect on what it means to be in a relationship. 
Two years ago, it meant kissing and making out, if you got lucky. Today it means … well, whatever it’s supposed to mean. And two years from now, it’ll probably mean something completely different again. Him and I are “talking” to prospective soul mates at the moment – “talking” being another dynamic of relationships that only entered existence for us less than a year ago – and it’s really only now that we’re enjoying newfound interest in the process that is getting to know someone, complimenting them occasionally (for fear of coming on too strong), being yourself, maybe going to go see a movie together, talking about important life stuff together. 
Our spiritual needs have changed, him and I – but who’s to say they won’t be completely different two years from now? Maybe the “talking” aspect of it all won’t be a source of frustration in the future (it surely is now). Who’s to say relationships, and our attitudes towards them, won’t be completely different again next year?
Everything else is!

Regardless of any and all generational change – summer’s ending, and the chance to keep growing during the school year soon returns. Summer is sometimes like a checkpoint, where you can reflect on who you’ve been, and who you’ll be. 
Whatever happens, though – here’s to an excellent junior year of high school!

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