WJI 2017 Flashback blog day 7 part one

Jan 27, 2018

Harvest Prude

Patrick Henry College

Today I felt like a journalist.

I’ve written for publications before. But typically, I work in familiar places like my hometown or at my college.

Today with World Journalism Institute we  visited the Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa. The Festival is a vibrant, three day celebration of Dutch heritage and culture including authentic food, costume, music, and of course, tulips.

Our assignment? To get audio snippets for radio and take pictures for a slideshow. Our obstacle? 45 degree weather and unceasing, cold rain.

Last night Lee Pitts took us to Walmart to buy rain boots, raincoats, and sweatshirts. Today I bundled up in no less than five layers. An extra-large sweatshirt I got for a dollar, my own jacket and coat, and a shapeless raincoat.

I donned new poppy red rainboots and a faded salmon-colored baseball cap and slung my DSLR around my neck.

We boarded 15-passenger busses. 25 minutes later they let us loose. We walked a few blocks past sullen, apparently abandoned floats into the streets of Orange City. Overhead dull, leaden clouds shivered off layers of rain.

All around stories waited in the good-natured complaints of people in plastic raincoats, in the come-hither smells of strong espresso, waffles with caramel filling (stroopwafels), dutch pancakes (poffertjes,) and dutch pig in a blanket (saucijzebroodjes). Everyone darted different directions to chase their respective muse.

After grabbing coffee, I worked the street with a friend.

People crowded the sidewalks and the small shops. Tulips wilted, but Dutch spirits stayed hardy. Natives donned authentic costumes with lace winged caps, embroidered aprons, and of course, classic wooden clogs. After a couple hours we grabbed poffertjes, the mini Dutch pancakes dusted with powdered sugar. I could have eaten probably 20 more.

I’m an introvert, but armed with a DSLR, a miniature mic, and a reporter’s notebook, I gained a social courage that surprised me. I photographed every cute kid whose parents smiled permission. I talked to lovers feeding each other cheetos under a canvas while watching the rain. I talked to people walking dogs on the street and little kids sweeping the streets with colorful brooms.

I could have walked those rain slicked streets for hours. If that is what it means to be a reporter, sign me up.

Rain or shine.

For more information:

World Journalism Institute