A life-changing journey

By the Staff of The Princeton Summer Journal

It is hard to believe we have been here for 10 days. It feels like we were just in our first workshop, with Richard standing at the front of the room, towering and intimidating. He asked us, “What is journalism?” It seemed like a simple question, and we all thought we had the answer. Little did we know the answer to this complex question would unfold during our immersive educational journey.

Here we were, 25 strangers from different states, together for 10 days. We came from different schools, different backgrounds and different views. What originally connected us was our shared passion for journalism, our curiosity and our thirst to learn new things and interact with other intellectuals. Over the course of this program, we learned new skills and put them to the test. In the process, we also pushed ourselves to the brink.

We learned that to become a credible journalist, you need to learn to think like a journalist. Journalists are the voice of truth. We were fortunate to learn from wonderful journalists and professors. But we didn’t just sit in a classroom and learn about journalism—we lived it. We reported on important topics and interviewed people from all walks of life. We gathered our information and wrote our articles. We traveled to New York City—for some of us, our first visit—to see major publications like The New York Times and Newsweek. In Philadelphia, we covered a preseason NFL game from the press box.

There is not a lot to complain about when it comes to SJP. Walking up hills every day was a bit of a pain—literally. We had bagels for breakfast a few too many days. Also the lack of bathroom breaks can make for uncomfortable listening. That leads us to our next point: It can be awkward to eat while the speakers are talking. But our biggest complaint is that the program is so short; we realize that the counselors have full-time jobs, but we treasured every minute of this program.

You might wonder how a group of strangers can be united so easily in such a short amount of time. We have not only triumphed together but also suffered through long days and equally long nights. We have helped each other through mental and physical exhaustion, encouraging one another through every deadline. We have been close enough to share many things: ideas, advice, stories, first experiences—even germs. Who knew that sleep deprivation and the common cold can bring people together so quickly?

This experience has been amazing, even life-changing. We know we will go on to do great things. Together as SJP 2013, we vow to report the truth and devote our lives to the pursuit of it. We are sad that our time together has come to an end. We will part ways soon, but we walk away as stronger people. And no matter where we are in this great big world, we will always have this summer We will always have each other.

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