Staff editorial: Ephemeral experience, lasting impact

By the SJP Class of 2016

It’s like the beginning of any race: Before the starting gun goes off, you feel nervous, uncertain and a little bit overwhelmed about what lies ahead. That’s how many of us felt when we first arrived at Princeton University’s Summer Journalism Program, flying in from Massachusetts, Missouri, California and everywhere in between.

But over the course of 10 short days and 10 long nights, we hit our stride, all becoming part of a vibrant community of curious students and intellectuals who’ve overcome their circumstances to chase their dreams.

We all came here because we like to write and to speak our minds, and because we’re talented at it. But it wasn’t until we came to Princeton that we discovered the true root of our passion for writing and journalism: We’re here because we want to speak the truth.

Speakers and workshops opened our eyes to worlds we never knew existed. Now the only thing that is foreign to us is sleep. In both the SJP staff and the guest speakers, we discovered role models to emulate as we strive to seek and share the truth about the world through journalism.

On this journey, SJP’s counselors were our guides, our teachers, our cheerleaders and our friends, as we navigated the ins and outs of our first real introduction to journalism. We found ourselves surrounded by people who are not only profound intellectuals, but motivators. No question went unanswered or fear untended. It didn’t matter if what we needed was coffee, an editor, or simply a shoulder to cry on, someone was always ready and waiting to help. The kindness and care that each director, counselor and intern has shown us in our time together makes it all the more heart-wrenching to leave.

SJP served as a safe haven for us to learn more about each other and ourselves than we ever thought possible. Acknowledging both our cultural and geographic differences, we blurred the lines that divided us, creating friendships and fostering an atmosphere of acceptance and adventure. Together we ventured into new territory, from the press box of MetLife Stadium to the streets of New York City, where we collaborated on an investigative story about NYC’s anti-idling law. Nothing forms bonds between people like knocking on the car windows of idling New York drivers.

At SJP, we were given the opportunity of a lifetime. We will take neither the lessons we learned, nor the friends we made, for granted. Tomorrow, we will cross the finish line and go our separate ways, but we will forever remember the importance of leaving our comfort zones, embracing honesty, and, above all, being fair.

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