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REFLECTING ON THE 2016 SUMMER WORKSHOP: Sanya

This post is part of an occasional series of reflections written by students from our 2016 Summer Investigative Reporting Workshop.

By Sanya Sawlani, Illinois

As I sat outside the College of Communications with my fellow campers on the first night of the NECIR workshop, I wondered if I had made the right choice by hopping on a plane to Boston from Chicago. I asked myself questions like “Am I actually ready for a taste of college life?” or, “Do I really love journalism as much as I thought I did?” Rest assured the two weeks I spent at Boston University were some of the best and most eye-opening experiences I’ve had during high school.

sanya

Sanya and her classmates in their BU dorm on move-out day.

In the first 24 hours alone I was introduced to people from North Carolina, Seattle, Milan, and so many places in between. My reasons for attending this workshop were to brush up and learn new techniques before taking over the role as Editor-in-Chief at my school’s online newspaper. The first day of classes were intense and I quickly knew I was at the right place.

Each day, I had the opportunity to work with amazing instructors who had endless insight on the profession and stories about every situation possible. In the morning, we attended class with Mr. Joe Bergantino, an award-winning journalist, who taught us skills like interviewing and what to do in tricky situations.

After lunch, we broke off into groups to meet with our afternoon professors and worked on our investigative pieces. Mr. Doug Struck, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, helped us conduct interviews on our topic of Boating Safety. Our interviewing process finally led us to the Boston Harbor. At first I was horrified, as my prior experience only had me interviewing people at school and I hardly ever ventured into the real world. I was mostly scared of rejection, but by the end of the day, I realized a strong journalist must be brave and fearless.

Now, I am fully confident in my abilities as Editor-in-Chief at my school’s publication, Devils’ Advocate. Every day I’m constantly recalling the basics and skills I learned at NECIR and passing them onto my staff.

Not only have I become a better journalist who now has the confidence to approach strangers, I made best friends and fell in love with the city of Boston.

It’s funny how quickly you can befriend someone when you’re both hungry at the middle of the night looking for pizza and snacking on Insomnia Cookies. The friends I made during these two weeks were encouraging, motivated, and people whom I still talk to daily.

On most evenings, we went on field trips to about every corner of the city. Some of my favorites were a shopping trip to Newbury Street, dinner at Faneuil Hall where I had the best Mac and Cheese, and a private tour of Fenway Park.

Living at Warren Towers was the perfect peek into college life before I started the dreaded application process. By the end of my stay at BU, I was confident of two things: my love for this school had become even greater and that journalism is something I cannot give up.

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