Tag Archives: 2014

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened

Wow, today is the last official day of Backpack Journalism… and I don’t even know what to really say (but of course, I’ll think of something).  I am more just in shock with the fact that…

…it’s over.

For starters, I think that it is a given for myself that, not today, or tomorrow, but give it a week or two and I will be having some serious Backpack Journalism withdrawal. This experience is a perfect example of how life can fly right past your eyes when you blink. It feels like just yesterday that we were all worried and packing for the trip, but at the same time it feels like a long time ago.

I find it extremely hard to sum up all that this trip has done for me, and I am sure that it has done things for me that I don’t even have a grasp on yet.

These 5 weeks have helped me visualize things that I would like to do with my future, and directions I would like to lead it. It gives me a “hey I went on/did this, so I’ll be able to do this!” kind of vibe, if that makes any sense. It has helped me develop skills that I never thought I would learn, and an experience I could have never have gotten in any classroom.

Another thing this trip has done is reintroduce a passion into my life. For the longest time in college, I felt myself just drifting through my classes, getting sucked into the zombie routine of going in and out of class, not giving much thought on the future instead of the present. This experience, I can honestly say, has helped me think of my future, and all the doors that can be unlocked.

Something else to note that this trip has done for me, is that I will be forever plagued and gifted with awareness. I guess this trip was an “ah-ha” moment for me after all, or “when I first became aware”. I know that (even if they are just small things), I will be conscious of what I am always doing, such as taking long showers, wasting the gift we have here of electricity, and wasting food (which according to the Yup’ik people is a mortal sin). It has helped me to take a step back from my consumer lifestyle, question something you don’t even realize you are doing, and ask, “should I be doing this?”

I would like to say another thanks to John, Tim, Carol and Nichole for making all of this possible. It really means a lot to me that you all go out of your way to do this for students. Before the trip, I didn’t really doubt that we were going to go and make a documentary.  I just couldn’t really wrap my head around HOW we were going to do it in such a short time span, it is really amazing all that we accomplished while there. Even though I still have my self doubts about working the equipment and being involved and all that, I was glad to help and be a part of a team, I think that’s really the thing that I will miss the most.

Overall, this trip was nothing that I expected. Of course, I’m not sure I really knew what to expect. I can honestly say that this trip has done so much for me. It has helped me gain firsthand experience in areas of film/video in the best way possible. It has let me look into another culture through the eyes of the ones living there, and see what they value, what they believe, their struggles, and really who they are. It has taught me about myself, and what I believe, who I really think that I am, and even though I’m not exactly sure what it is yet, it has done something for me that nothing else could have.

I am trying to keep the “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened” attitude, and even though I will miss everyone on the team, I am overjoyed and so thankful that I was given the chance to experience this.

What is one thing I can do differently based on what I have learned? (Carol’s question). The one thing I can confirm that I am taking away from this is that opportunity isn’t going to come knocking on your door, you can’t just glide through life expecting the doors to open up for you, you have to take the step outside of your comfort zone and go seeking opportunities. That is one thing I am going to attempt to do different, look for opportunity, and try to make things happen for myself (something I need to keep in mind).

With that, it has been a wonderful experience to say the least, I especially need to thank Johnny Intensity for opening up these doors, and helping me grow in my life, and helping my spirituality grow in ways I never knew possible. And for being the Dad of the trip to all of us (you all know it’s true).

Until next time…


The best team I could have asked for
The best team I could have asked for

Tick Tock…Tick Tock…

Wow. Three days before we leave and I have to say this really snuck up on me. I feel a mixture of emotions including nervous, excited, anxious, nervous, and enthusiastic, and somehow all at the same time.

This week has been intense to say the least, and I have tried to retain as much knowledge that was thrown at me as possible. Now I truly know why they call it “bootcamp”. Even if I were to have a horrible time in Alaska (which I am sure I won’t),  it would have been worth it because of the amount that I have learned this week.

However, even though it has been a lot to take in and process, I honestly wish that we had at least another week to really get everything down. We don’t though, and I have accepted that, and I am actually all right with it.

My list of concerns is a whole lot longer than my packing list, and that’s saying something. What’s on that list doesn’t include things like “Getting eaten by a bear” (as I’m sure we have all heard more than a few times) something like that would just make for a cool story.

Some examples would be things like: getting everything right with equipment, remembering all the correct settings to use for the camera and when to use them, actually being a help, and getting along with everyone. …oh and being the one person in the group to sneeze during an interview when we desperately need to be quiet (that’s a big one on the list). Saying “I’m a little overwhelmed” would be a bit of an understatement. But all I can really do is try to learn, adapt, and contribute anything I can, whenever possible.

My worry list however does not outweigh my excitement by any means. I can honestly say I am glad that I am doing this. Hell, on top of that, it will be good for me.

I think that the whole idea with the Yup’ik word “Ella” that John presented this morning was brilliant, and really hope we can go that direction with it. I find the Yup’ik culture fascinating, and I can’t wait to learn more about them. I  respect the way that they view life, and it is somewhat humbling in a way. I am eager to learn more about the Yup’ik people, and perhaps some of their religious/spiritual beliefs even cross over with my own.

Soon we will be able to count down the hours until our flight leaves, and as I am typing this, I’m beginning to realize how soon we will actually be in Alaska. There’s no going back now, and I wouldn’t want to. Well, I better continue packing!

Some of my Alaska gear!
Some of my Alaska gear!

It’s Finally Here: Alaska Time

My first step into the Hitchcock Building was on my Admitted Student Day to visit with Dr. Wirth about all the amazing things the JMC department has to offer (being here for two years now, I can tell you this place really is amazing).  As I sat in her office with my mother, we listened to Dr. Wirth rave about the available internships for JMC students, engaging faculty, and forward-thinking classes.  In the meeting she also mentioned a Backpack Journalism project that had previously traveled to the Dominican Republic and Uganda to create documentaries about the people there.

Wait. What?

I tried to wrap my mind around the idea of a Backpack Journalism trip. An image of hiking up a mountain with enormous stuffed backpacks searching for a place to set up camp and the next story to write flashed through my mind.

NOT what we are doing

Sitting in Dr. Wirth’s office, I hadn’t a clear idea what it was, but I knew that I had to find out.

A year and a half later, I was sitting in another meeting in Hitchcock but this time was for the first meeting for the Alaska Backpack Journalism project, a five-week course combining elements of theology, feature writing, and video with an objective of creating a film exploring the life in Bethel, Alaska.

When asked why I want to take on this experience, I immediately think “why not?”

I have always felt an urge to challenge myself with new adventures.

I hope to create something special with a dedicated team of people devoted to telling the stories of the people we meet.  I want to collaborate with my peers and write, write, write.  I want to shoot B roll, learn the workings of the complicated cameras, and utilize the one-thirds rule of shooting.  I want to form friendships with my peers and learn from them.  I hope to leave this unique project with a variety of writing and photojournalism experiences to be applied in future jobs and adventures.  Most of all, I hope to end this project with strengthened lenses as a journalist and for larger world outside of me.

I want to gain so much from this project.  Check back here throughout the next month see if my hopes come true.