All posts by Hayley Henriksen

Hayley Henriksen

About Hayley Henriksen

My Name is Hayley Henriksen. I am a senior at Creighton University studying journalism and political science and pursuing a career in nonprofit public relations. I love going to concerts and seek any opportunity to learn about the world.

Adventure is out there!

What a whirlwind of a week it has been! After five days of “video boot camp,” with several journalism and theology lectures mixed in, I have already learned so much in a short span of time.

Practicing with a camera during "video boot camp" using Rembrandt lighting. Photo by John O'Keefe
Practicing with a camera during “video boot camp” using Rembrandt lighting. Photo by John O’Keefe

The Backpack Journalism team will be leaving for Bethel in less than 48 hours, and now the trip is starting to feel real as I bring out my luggage and start packing. Even though my to-do list is long and I don’t know how I will fit everything in my bags, I can hardly contain my anticipation for this incredible adventure.

I view my decision to go on this trip as by far my most adventurous life choice, so it is only fitting that my motto for this experience is “Adventure is out there!” which comes from the delightful Pixar movie “Up.” If you haven’t seen it, please go watch it because it is the perfect film about taking risks, learning from the people around you and pursuing your dreams (this just so happens to be the Backpack Journalism Project in a nutshell for me). Here is a short movie clip from “Up” about the spirit of adventure.

Just like young Carl in the video, I am stepping out into the unknown as I spend two weeks in a completely new place filming a documentary. I have never left the country, nor been away from Nebraska for this length of time. I’m not going to hide the fact that I am pretty nervous, but I don’t want it to keep me from learning and growing.

As someone who loves to listen and soak in everything around me, I hope to be present and appreciate every moment while I am there without feeling too overwhelmed. I know that the first few days will be a lot to take in, but it will all be a part of the process of gaining greater awareness about the Bethel community and the world.

I also want to maintain joy and enthusiasm like the character Ellie during this, at times, very intense experience. During our class discussions throughout the week, we talked about potential storylines for our film. One topic we will explore in Alaska is climate change and its effects on the Yup’ik culture and way of life. Climate change is an issue I care about very deeply, so I’m fascinated to witness this challenge firsthand and excited to potentially bring the story to light. In the midst of long days of setting up video equipment, looking for the best shots and finding the next person to interview, I don’t want to forget our purpose for being there and the passion I have for this project.

Although I’m still not completely sure what to expect when I arrive in Bethel, I am already inspired by the Backpack Journalism team. We will be guided by great teachers and will have the support of each other as we experience Alaska together.

I am ready to dive in, forget my discomfort and experience the adventure that will be Alaska.

Living out My Love for Learning

When I first heard about the Backpack Journalism Project as a freshman at Creighton, I was immediately intrigued and knew that someday I would love to be a part of this experience. Now more than two years later, I am just beginning what I consider to be the opportunity of a lifetime.

What first attracted me to Backpack Journalism, beyond the practical reasons like it fitting with my major, was the chance to travel to a new and compelling place with a group of Creighton students and faculty. In addition, I have always loved movies, and the idea of filming a documentary sparked my interest in the program even more.

When the 2014 trip was set for Alaska, I was thrilled for many reasons: no passport needed, beautiful scenery, cooler temperatures and the chance to see my favorite animal, the moose.

My encounter with several moose near the Snowy Mountain Range in Wyoming
My encounter with several moose near the Snowy Mountain Range in Wyoming

Once I committed to the program and continued to learn about Backpack Journalism, I realized how much more there is to this project than what meets the eye.

Even though this year’s group won’t be leaving the country, our destination will feel like a whole new world. Bethel, the town in which we will be spending most of our trip, is not in the “pretty” part of Alaska. The landscape is flat and wet (we were all instructed to purchase mud boots to pack), and it is one of the poorest regions of the United States. We will be immersed in a culture far different than the Midwest and encounter a new way of life.

Bethel is a place full of people with stories to be told. As we learn about important issues in this community, we will be reaching out to people to tell us about their experiences. The finished product of the trip, a documentary, will be a way to share these stories to a larger community and give a voice to the people of Bethel.

I know that I will gain so much from this experience far beyond filmmaking and writing. Being a part of Backpack Journalism is encouraging my love of learning in a new way. Stepping outside my comfort zone and experiencing a completely new place will be a tremendous challenge but one that will make a lasting impact on my life. Throughout this trip, I am excited to be exploring issues that interest me, including poverty, religion and the impacts of climate change. Beyond these topics and others, I look forward to learning by being with people and establishing relationships.

I have been anticipating this trip for so long now, and I am incredibly excited for this journey.