After a week of starting the day at 9 am sharp, it was nice to have more of a relaxed start to our second Saturday at WJI. Caleb and I left the dorm just before 10 am to head into Sioux Center for our morning interview at a local bike shop.
We got a bit lost on our way there, so we ended up taking a roundabout way and arriving at around 10:30. At that point, Brother’s Bicycle was already full of customers. Most of them were families coming in with their own bikes that needed to be fixed. The owner, Nathan Nycamp, had his hands full.
Caleb and I hung around the shop, observing the equipment, decor and bike repair and taking notes, photos and recordings. Caleb interviewed the only employee, a seventeen-year-old high schooler named Levi. During the brief customer-free breaks we took the opportunity to interview Mr. Nycamp. I had a quick lunch of sandwich and chips right outside the doorway of the shop at eleven.
Around noon, Caleb and I went to La Rancherita Taco Shop to grab a bite of Mexican food. We ordered it to-go and ate it while walking to Mr. Nycamp’s house, where his wife runs her violin rental and repair business.
-Lauren Vanden Bosch
The mood of the WJIers has slowly gotten sillier and sillier as the days go by. The amount of giggling that occurs at meals has reached an all time high, as students’ minds begin to fade. This silliness is mostly a product of tiredness, a bit of stress, and no small amount of excitement.
Tiredness is a symptom that has shown up in the majority of the students. Since a few of the students have been sleeping quite well, I cannot say that lack of sleep is the sole cause, though I’m sure that sleeplessness may play into it. The greatest factor here is most likely the amount of splendid information being thrown at us. Seeing as the students here are very zealous academics, they want to retain as much information as they can at speeds even most racers cannot reach. As such, their brains move faster than their bodies, resulting in our first symptom: tiredness.
Our second observed symptom is stress. This second symptom can mostly be attributed to the causes of the first, but there is another force at work here. Since the students are so wonderfully studious, their desire to do well pushes them forward through that tiredness. As such, they sometimes worry that they are not doing their best, leading to unnecessary stress.
Regardless of these first two symptoms, I have also noted a great deal of excitement in the students. Not only do they keep going despite their tiredness and stress, but they seem to want to keep going. They’re experiencing journalism in real time, as if they were already working for papers and news organizations. As such, their love for journalism spurs them on with eagerness and joy, leading also to a great deal of laughter among each other.
These three symptoms combined, tiredness, stress, and excitement, are causing a great deal of humor in the lunch rooms.
A great by-product of these symptoms is another effect: by putting in effort, they have inspired the staff teaching here, and have especially inspired me! As thanks for their determination, and humorous conversations, all I can offer them is this Psalm. I hope they read it if they are ever feeling discouraged or unfit for the duty which has brought them here:
“Why art thou so full of heaviness, O my soul? And why art thou so disquieted within me? O put thy trust in God; for I will yet thank him, which is the help of my countenance, and my God” (Psalm 42:6-7).
- Nick Jenson
We ended the day with sticky fingers, wire-hanger-turned-s’more-sticks, smoke scented clothing, and voices hoarse from singing and smoke inhalation. Cramming around the brick fire pit, we roasted marshmallows and chatted about the day. A slight drizzle began as we sang a few hymns. As the wind picked up, we leaned toward the fire.
Later, Professor Pitts pulled slips of paper out of a plastic bag from walmart. The papers contained questions ranging from the best piece of marriage advice to favorite stories about reporting during the Iraq War. Pitts shared openly about the lessons he has learned from both success and failure. Embarrassing stories accompanied by a constant stream of laughter concluded the night.
Earlier that day, we scurried to and from our different work rooms with notebooks in hand. I spent most of the afternoon sitting in the newsroom: researching, receiving edits, writing, and rewriting. Others worked on broadcast scripts, filmed standups, and interviewed residents of Northwest Iowa. During dinner, we swapped stories, shared about the latest developments on our different projects, and in some cases, discussed eschatology.
Mindy Belz shared her experiences with cross cultural reporting in our “Meeting Journalists From Around the World” session. I appreciated her vulnerability about overwhelming situations, mistakes she has made, and the way God has stretched her faith along the way.
During each one of these sessions, I have learned so much from each speakers’ openness and honesty. They willingly share their triumphs and mistakes. They laugh at themselves, and encourage us to see failure as an opportunity for growth. Esther Eaton argued that there are two absolute truths about journalism: you must be perfect and you will screw up. We need to take the work seriously, not ourselves
Real growth happens when we humbly admit weaknesses. Vulnerability doesn’t come easy for me. This week and a half has reminded me of the value of acknowledging where I fall short. Christ will display his strength in these areas. Choosing to be vulnerable reminds me that in my weakness, He is strong.
It’s officially the middle of the week, and it may be the most bittersweet Wednesday I’ve had in a long time. With consistent 12-hour days, I’m exhausted. It feels like I’m in varsity soccer pre-season intensive training but without the ice baths. Still, as tired as I am mentally and physically, I can’t believe how much drive I still have. I love it here, and I’ve felt so motivated throughout this entire experience.
In our three groups, broadcast, feature writing, or hard news, we’ve all hit the grind the last few days. With only 48 hours left, we’ve all dispersed and are trying to get finished copies of either handwritten articles or video stand-ups. I remember at the beginning of the week I was a little disappointed to be told I didn’t get to edit my pieces at the end, but, oh my goodness, am I thankful to Ben he will be editing our videos. I’m going to need every last hour I can get to finish my pieces. And I know my classmates are feeling the same way.
I’m in the broadcast group, which, initially, surprised me, but I’m loving it. I had never filmed a stand-up before last week, and so watching myself report news has felt weird. I notice all my little quirks. I will press my lips to the right in between takes when I’m nervous or raise my eyebrows a little too much. Growing up, I’ve always had people tell me how incredibly expressive my face is, and I guess my open-bookness is finally paying off.
I’m really looking forward to finishing my projects and also hearing from others, as I know how hard we’ve all been working. The evening’s are always fun and renewing though. We’re looking forward to a bonfire, then an ice cream night, which are incredible experiences to grow closer to both each other and our professors. Apparently teenage Pitts was in the kitchen making tacos at Taco Sid’s during a drug raid, and had a fascination with taking revenge on garbage cans.
I’m going to miss these people so much, as well as how much I’ve been pushed in an academic sense. Having the excuse to just go up to strangers and talk to them makes my heart so happy, and I really hope it’s in God’s plans for me to keep doing this work. But I still have two days left, so I don’t have to prep for goodbye’s quite yet.
- Mikaela Wegne