WJI alum Allie Hulcher: Growing as writer and a Christian
Jan 5, 2015
Allie Hulcher graduated from the University of Alabama last May and headed straight to Asheville to begin her summer with the World Journalism Institute.
Despite being a journalism major, Allie quickly discovered WJI could teach her more about the crafts of reporting and writing.
“I feel like I got a semester worth of knowledge in two weeks,” she said. “The stories we heard from practicing journalists are ones you usually don’t get in your day-to-day college courses.”
Coming from a large university, Allie enjoyed the small size of WJI’s class. She also appreciated being surrounded by Christians at WJI. Christians who, like her, wanted to explore the media world.
For Allie, investigating how a Christian worldview impacts reporting “added a depth to the program I wasn’t expecting.”
Allie said she learned at WJI about the importance of perseverance and compassion and how you should not exploit your sources for a story. She said it helped her focus on conducting her interviews with empathy while also being persistent on getting the facts. It is a challenging task, and Allie admits she is still learning.
“Before coming to World’s headquarters, I had no idea what a Christian organization looked like. In college you take ethics courses that are real airy and hard to get a grasp of.”
She said WJI still devoted plenty of time to the nuts and bolts of journalism, exploring such skills as interviewing and editing.
“During our time in Asheville and Washington we did not sit in a classroom. We did what journalists do. Going out and reporting. “
Doing what real journalists do also provides an unexpected opportunity for Allie and other WJI participants: a chance to get published. Allie was thrilled to get some of her articles published in both World News Group’s magazine and its website.
Allie also appreciated the variety of skills she got exposed to at WJI.
“I was in college for 4 years, and I never had an opportunity to explore radio. It was something I always wanted to do. The experience was incredible.”
Allie called the one-on-one, line-by-line editing at WJI “extremely humbling“ but also invaluable for becoming a better writer. She appreciated how the instructors at WJI took a good story and pushed the student writer to revise it into a great story. In her college courses Allie got a lot of comments written in the margins of her stories, but having the individual editing sessions at WJI helped the critiques sink in faster and deeper.
Allie said three things about WJI surprised her: how much she grew as a writer, how hard she worked on some days, and how much she bonded with the other students.
“In college I was used to a very competitive environment. But at WJI everyone was so encouraging and helpful. It was so easy to make friends.”
The environment of the hostel where the students lived also helped foster friendships among the students. Allie said the students had many deep, interesting conversations nearly every night, often while they still worked on WJI assignments.
Allie also loved exploring Asheville: seeing its mountains, eating at some of its unique restaurants, walking around its vibrant downtown where every Friday an eclectic mix of musicians gather to perform using drums of all shapes and sizes.
“When we ate out we made sure we didn’t eat at any place you could go to at home.”
Allie called her stint in Washington, D.C. the most challenging part of her time at WJI: Navigating the logistics of the nation’s capital, tackling the complex topics being debated on Capitol Hill, and then, after filing a story, having to move onto a new issue the next day.
“We had to be quick on our feet there. I’ve never written a story as quickly as I had to at WJI in DC.” But, Allie added, “We had a home to come back to after working each day.” Those host families provided a safe haven and home cooked meals after a busy day following lawmakers.
Allie said discussions in class as well as one-on-one talks with editors, students, and host families all helped her grow in her faith.
“It was encouraging to see that opportunities are out there where you can incorporate your beliefs in your work.”
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