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Letter to the Editor
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Unassuming workshop enlightens sophomore

When most people think of Iowa, endless cornfields come to mind. Honestly, what I thought before my experience in this uneventful state was, “who goes to Iowa for anything, especially journalism?”

My view of the state was ultimately transformed when I attended a journalism workshop in Iowa City called Advanced News Writers, located at The University of Iowa. I was to stay in college dorms for three nights and attend classes during the day.

On my way to Iowa I looked out the window as the view swayed back and forth, as if the humidity and heat were alive. As I walked out of the airport, I meet my counselor, who would be transporting me to the university. I saw Tynin Fries, and a few other students who were also attending the workshop. Immediately we greeted each another with smiles and hellos in a robotic fashion.

I walked through the door of the airport, which guided me outside, and stepped into my sticky surroundings. The patchy gray sky, bushy detailed green trees, thick moist air and smiling faces is Iowa in a nutshell.

On the car ride to the university, I observed the buildings, landscape and culture that passed by my window. There was no debris in sight, but instead, beautiful plants, greenery and rocks lined the streets, unlike Fresno, CA. The buildings were all well-kept and built out of industrial brick and concrete.

The car came to a halt in the university parking lot, where I proceeded to unloaded the carry-on suitcase that contained all of my belongings. I noticed quickly how many students were there with the same smile, laughter and overall happy mood that was shared on the car ride there. Soon after, I attended registration and received my tarnished gold key that would unlock my dorm room.

I walked up the white linoleum stairs to the top floor; opening my door to not only an extremely humid room, but also to a broken air conditioner. I met my roommate and unpacked my belongings to settle in. Before heading downstairs for our first meeting, I fixed my shirt and pulled my hair into a ponytail.

A sea of people surrounded Tynin, Annalise Rosik and myself, asking where we were from — they were all in awe that we were “Cali Girls.” We made our way to the mess hall and ate dinner, then a large group of students joined us in walking to our first seminar.

The speaker, Maudlyne Ihejirkia, impressed me and gave great advice that I could apply to high school and even use in my future. In particular, I learned to always have a competitive edge to set yourself apart from those around you.

After this, I walked to my next class and felt self-conscious since I did not know what to expect. My teacher and counselor, Reggie Ragland, spoke with a confident slur, and I was very excited to spend the next few days in his classroom.

My goal and motivation for this workshop was to learn and expand my linguistic knowledge. I expected the camp to be challenging and to push my limits, but I was also excited for the change. During this workshop, I was ready to improve my writing and sharpen my skills.

The second day in Iowa City came too quickly; I hadn’t gotten enough sleep because I was thinking about the upcoming, chaotic day. Aside from my mind wondering, it was also very hot and sticky and I felt as if I could almost peel the heat off of my skin.

That day I met wonderful people and attended a really interesting class, which provided me with knowledge that I could use to better my writing. I learned many valuable lessons, such as meeting deadlines, using correct grammar and how to write newspaper articles rather than online articles.

My experience was definitely helpful because I improved on my writing skills and learned how to write well under pressure! The mentors, speakers, counselors and students were all very welcoming and helpful to my progress in becoming a better writer.

The third and final day I would spend attending the workshop was intense, since I had to finish three articles, which would not be edited or looked at by anyone. Every minute seemed to tick by like a second, and I was stressed due to the amount of work I had to get done. In the end, I finished everything and all was well until I found out I would be missing the awards ceremony the next morning, since I had a 7:30 a.m. flight to Dallas Fort Worth.

With my trip coming to an end, I reflected on the many great things I was able to do, such as touring the University of Iowa, and experiencing how lovely the campus is. There were many things to see, people to meet and talk to about why they choose this college. I met an editor of their school newspaper, The Daily Iowan, learned how I could work my way up in the writing industry and realized that every young voice counts.

As I was flying home I had the same view as I did on my arrival, but instead I left with many amazing new memories. I reflected on my time spent in the humidity, but realized how awesome it was that I was able to attend an amazing workshop in Iowa City.

I boarded the minuscule plane, and as I walked through the aisle my large green hand bag hit every person in their seats as I passed them. I sat down in my cramped seat and as we were about to take off, a thunderstorm broke out. The pilot assured us if lightning hit the plane we would not be harmed, and that he knew this because it had happened to him numerous times.

We were not able to take off until the weather cleared and, 45 minutes later, the pilot instructed us to fasten the uncomfortable waist seatbealts. I arrived in Dallas Fort Worth later than I was suppose to and missed my connecting flight to Fresno. The lady at the large desk rebooked my flight, which did not leave until eight hours later.

Just when I though my luck could not get any worse, my mother, Hannah Serimian, called me and asked to speak to whoever was in charge. How embarrassing is that?

Finally, I arrived in Fresno — home sweet home — at 10:45 p.m. I was happy to be home and grateful for the amazing learning experience I had in Iowa.

For more columns, read the Aug. 30 article, Stanford camp broadens media interest.

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    Bobby ChristopherNov 18, 2011 at 12:01 am

    THANKS DAVID! You’re awesome!

    Reply