The Inside Scoop

In Iowa, the smell of manure hangs in the air and the highway is sandwiched between two empty fields that disappear over the horizon. I’m a midwest girl, but spending two weeks in drizzling rain in what seems like one endless cornfield was a little too much, even for me.

But when you get the opportunity to work with some of the best Christian journalists in the country, you go anywhere, including the cornfields.

World Journalism Institute is a program for young Christian journalists (like me). This year’s program focused on “backpack journalism” and was essentially a crash course in print, audio, video, and photo journalism.

And although getting to work with experienced writers was amazing, one of my favorite parts of the trip was something much less grandeur.

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These girls are as sweet as the dessert

It turns out that just a few towns over from Sioux Center, Iowa, is Le Mars, the ice cream capital of the world. The program director had promised to take us there to visit the Blue Bunny parlor. So, we put a pause on our finals presentations and stuffed ourselves into vans. The Blue Bunny store was cute, with a penny press and a little gift shop.

But this story isn’t about ice cream.

After a cone and a quick photo-op, we piled back into the vans. With 26 students to get back to Sioux Center, each van was packed tight.

As the van rocked back and forth past the dark cornfields, I realized I had fallen in love with these people.

I listened to the row of girls behind me scream-singing to pop music and watched a boy marvel at the country stars. One girl had fallen asleep with her head rested against the seat in front of her and her blond hair was spilling over her shoulders. The guy next to me saved space by sitting on the floor, wedged between the seat and the van wall. It was a mix of chaos and joy and exhaustion and maybe a little too much sugar.

And I loved every second of it.

Two weeks is not very long to fall in love with someone, let alone 25 other someones. Yet that was somehow what had happened.

Perhaps it’s the fact that we are all connected by our love of stories. We all take some form of solace in words. We all want to be better Christians, people, and writers. We all want the same thing.

I’m trying not to paint this as a profound moment. This wasn’t a life-changing van ride through the country or the first step on some sort of journey.

It was a small slice of community, a taste of joy.

And, sometimes, that is the only story that needs telling.

In times of breaking news

In times of breaking news

The two-week journalism intensive I am currently attending requires each student to write a blog post for the institute’s website. The guidelines are loose at best, and I was originally going to talk about the power of audiovisual stories, since we had just completed our video crash course.

Instead, here is what I submitted.

This blog post was originally going to talk about the power of video, since video is what we talked about today.

I was going to string poetic phrases together and try to capture how I think audio and visuals can sometimes be more impactful than words, how they add another dimension to a story.

Then I opened up Twitter.
Then I saw news of Manchester.

Some quick facts, as of 1 a.m. central time: An explosion outside an ending Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena in Manchester, England, left 22 people dead and 59 injured. Police are treating it as a terrorist attack and have confirmed the attacker was a suicide bomber. Transportation in the area has been closed.

Two hashtags have already sprung out of the attack: #missinginmanchester is to help reconnect those who may have gone missing in the confusion and #roomformanchester is for people to offer shelter to stranded concert-goers.

It’s times like this I remember why I want to be a journalist.

As I scroll through the twitter feeds of both U.S. and U.K. publications, refreshing for updates and new information, I feel a tug in my gut. I want to be there to help.

When news breaks, it’s the journalist’s job to get information to worried parents and friends. It’s our job to help protect the vulnerable by spreading the truth. It’s our job to make sure people know what is happening.

When news breaks, it’s our job to be there.

Being a journalist is more than fun feature pieces. It’s more than being paid in experiences or getting to travel the world. It means being first on the scene to crises like this. It means staying up all night waiting for the press conference, for the body count, for the number people can call.

Being a journalist means dedicating your career to serving other people.

Even as Manchester settles into investigation, it’s still our job to be there. To follow up and continually ask, ‘why?’” To see the story through. To provide information for frantic family; to facilitate truth.

Some quick facts, as of 1 a.m. central time:
22 dead, 59 injured.
Two hashtags, no transportation.
News is breaking. Be there.

An Update in Three Chapters

heard

Well, have you?

 

Consider this your update. It’s really more of me acknowledging I have not written anything in three solid months.

It’s not that there hasn’t been anything to write about. Quite the opposite, actually. So here it is: A Comprehensive Update on the Life of Jordyn Pair.

You’re welcome, grandma.

 

Chapter 1: Finding my (radio) voice

When I took a radio class last semester, I never expected it to be anything more than an obligatory rounding-out of my journalism skills. I never expected to take a second class, and I certainly never anticipated eventually taking charge of three separate shows.

That’s right, folks, Jordyn Pair is on the air.

Getting my first radio show, Have You Heard? on the airwaves was a long process, mostly due to my lack of diligence. I didn’t know who to talk to or how to edit what they said. But now you can hear the unusual stories, passions, and experiences of Hillsdale College students at seven in the morning, provided you are in town. Otherwise, you have to wait for the Soundcloud file to make an appearance on the Facebook page.

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Although I also produce The Devil’s Advocate, and will soon be hosting The Collegian Week in Review, my first show, Have You Heard? is my fun project. I’m in journalism to tell the unknown stories, and, at Hillsdale, that’s the not-quite-newsworthy-but-still-cool students. There might not be a news hook, but there is passion.

And, in my case, passion fed passion.

Although I have worked with words for so long, learning to work with them in audio format has been a new challenge. These shows are a different beast than ones I have approached before, but it’s a beast I love tackling.

The radio shows I work on are creative. It’s not just straightforward journalism, and they’re more personalized. Although journalism does occasionally lend itself to flexing artistic muscles, the radio shows I work on are more like a time for me to play. It’s a chance to sit down in front of a microphone and just have fun.

Chapter 2: Small town girl, meet big city

I have a love affair with travelling, but am rarely able to.

Which is why I am absolutely stoked that I get to spend the summer in Washington, D.C. After I finish a  two-week stint in Iowa for a journalism intensive, I will immediately turn around, cram everything I own (plus my parents and me) into a car, and drive down to D.C.

Although I am unsure of what my journalism internship holds, I’m thrilled to be in a town where the main occupant is not corn.

Yes, I am sharing a room. Yes, I will be stuffing myself into pencil skirts all summer. Yes, I will absolutely love every second of it.

And if you have any “Top Ten Places to Visit in D.C.” listicles, send them my way.

 

Chapter 3: The one where I write a million headlines

I have spent every Wednesday of the last year in the Collegian office. Apparently, I am a glutton for pain and the AP Stylebook, because that is where I am spending every Wednesday of this coming year, too.

Dearest readers/fellow students/grandma, meet the Hillsdale Collegian’s next News Editor.

Being an editor is difficult work. It’s long hours and managing new writers and harassing old ones. But it’s work that I will find fulfilling, rewarding, and so, so worth it.

 

I know my second two chapters are so much shorter than my first, but it’s only because they haven’t been fully written yet. This is just a preview of me throwing myself into the deep end of the journalism pool.

Pen to paper. Sink or swim.

 

A Letter to Boardwalk and Everyone in It

Today I move out of the little brown house on Manning Street and into the newly-refurbished Mauck Dormitory. 

It will be nice to have a properly-heated room. Less nice to have to share a bathroom with more than two other people. 

Still, I will miss this house, run-down as it was. Not because of my larger room or the abundance of community tea nestled on the top shelf of the kitchen, but because of the aggressive positivity that turned it into a home.

I am not used to having an abundance of female friendships. Growing up, I had my mom and a few close girlfriends. I have never been the girl that hangs out with 10 other girls at the same time. I’m not in a sorority. The last group of “girlfriends” I had was in early middle school. 

This means I have more intimate friendships with the girlfriends I do have, but it also means I spend a lot of my time with boys. 

Girl friendships are difficult for me. I despise doing the weeks, even months, of awkward friend-flirting, only to have the friendship fizzle. Sometimes, it’s because Things Happen. Sometimes not. Either way, it’s a wooing process, tiring and often fruitless. It’s left me a little jaded toward the idea of reaching out to make new girlfriends.

Living in Boardwalk changed that. 

I hadn’t originally planned on living in the house, but was offered a spot after my planned roommate bailed at the last second. I’m grateful now she did. 

I have never seen a house get along so perfectly. The living room was always littered with twinkle lights and candles. Some sort of baked good cooled on the kitchen counter at least once a week. When I wandered into the kitchen in the morning, still blurry-eyed and bed-headed, I was always greeted with at least one cheery “good morning!” 

Twelve girls in one house seems like a lot. It is. Every space in that house was crammed with something. Books, food, and homework, but also joy, laughter, and love. 

Don’t get me wrong. We weren’t gathering in the living room every night to giggle and swap makeup tips. But knowing there were others just down the hall who would be there for me, who would let me vent, and who I could support equally, that was exciting.

The women in Boardwalk showed me why female friendships that are unequivocally and passionately positive are of unmatched importance. Having such a positive experience with 11 other girls at once gave me the desire to once again pursue female friendships. They made me a better person, a more confident person, in just a semester.

So thank you, Boardwalk. A few twinkle lights and a little bit of a laughter made a little run-down house feel like home. 

Here’s to a new dorm, a new semester, and new friendships. Welcome to Mauck. 

Good Morning, 2017

The year 2016 is finally (finally) over. I rang in the new year with friends and family and way too much dessert. The past year brought the beginning of my sophomore year at Hillsdale College, a goodbye to my elderly dog, and a lot of summer on Portage lake in Pinckney, Michigan, which surprised me. I used to hate swimming, but my waterlogged boyfriend convinced me to get on the lake more. Now, you can’t keep me off the boat. 

This past semester has especially been full of joy. Due to some dorm renovations, I spent the last semester in an off-campus house with 11 other girls, which is way more fun than it sounds. I also got the hang of being an assistant editor, including the two-hour upload session it takes to get all the pieces on the newspaper website. I’m looking forward to getting back into the office next semester.

Like many, though, I use the new year as motivation to set new goals for myself. And, like many, I tend to get a little over-ambitious. I want to form so many new habits, everything from exercising (haha) to sleeping right (hahaha) I start to get overwhelmed. I even paid for–yes, paid for–a habit-tracking app. It’s working so far, but we’re only a week into the new year, so time will tell. 

Although I have many smaller goals, I especially want to work on having peace and being content. In the past, I have put far too much energy into worrying about what others are doing or saying. Focusing on their successes made me lose sight of my own goals. This year, I want to focus on who I am and where I want to go. I want to be secure in my own path and not worry where others are going. 

Part of striving for peace means unplugging some. Social media is one of of the biggest ways I become discontent as it’s too easy to compare myself to others. This is part of the reason I also have to goal to read more.

I used to love reading when I was younger. I would walk out of the library with a pile of books towering above my head. But with the pace of school and the abundance of television shows on Netflix, reading has been shoved to the wayside. It’s easier to scroll through Instagram and Facebook than dive into a book. 

I realized how much I missed reading when I had time for it again this summer. Not only does it give me something new to do, it also helps me unplug for a few hours. This is why I plan to read one new non-school book each month. I have already started in on Yes Please by Amy Poehler, and have picked up another memoir and took suggestions from friends. Still, I am eager to see what else I find throughout the year. 

I’m looking forward to these next twelve months. I turn 20 soon. I will be halfway through college. I’ll spend my summer doing what I love. I could write a multitude of metaphors about dawn and fresh starts and clean slates, but such things are trite and overused. I will simply say this: 

Good morning, 2017. It’s going to be a good one. 

I’m still looking for books to read this year, preferably shorter, easier books. What are your suggestions? Why do you like them? Comment and let me know!

Your family is a Christmas tree 

 

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A newsroom argument over whether colored lights or white lights look better on the Christmas tree:

“Colored lights make a tree look messy,” I said.

“Christmas trees are like families. They’re supposed to be messy.”

It effectively ended the debate, and those words have been jingling around my head since.

Family drama can place a strain on this mistletoed holiday. When people bounce from house to house, relative to relative, old arguments are dredged up, new ones spring to life.

As we near the cusp of Christmas, remember this is a season of great love, of the greatest love. No earthly thing can overwhelm that.

I encourage you to remember the reason we gather these next two days (or, for those with larger families, for the next week, repeatedly). This is a time based in love. It is a time to put aside squabbles and arguments and drama. The homemade ornaments on the tree are far more important than what is under them.

A Christmas tree is like a family. It may be big or small, messy or neat, picturesque or haphazard. No matter the kind, it is twinkling and loved all the same.

Merry Christmas. Peace on earth.

 

Bullet Journaling

Staying organized has been a challenge for me at school, simply because there is so much happening. Last semester, I relied on separate notebooks for each class, an assignment notebook, a calendar planner, and my phone for everything else. I found out, though, that I am apparently the kind of person that thinks of their entire to-do list in the middle of class.

Enter the bullet journal.

The bullet journal has a few main sections: the index, the future log, the monthly log, and the daily log. The index is an ever-growing table of contents, the future log is a yearly calendar, the monthly log is a monthly calendar, and the daily log is a daily to-do list. I don’t personally use the future log extensively, and use the monthly log more as reference, but I love the daily log. Whenever I think of something I need to do, want to buy, or want to look into, I just write it down. Then, I go back to whatever I was doing, knowing I won’t forget it.

I love that the bullet journal is constantly changing and adapting to what I need. I don’t have to worry about buying the absolute perfect planner because I can just change my bullet journal. I can do things like add a module for a personal project, so I can keep all pertinent tasks and ideas in one place.

A prime example is the goal-tracker. After deciding I wanted to know my sleep and exercise patterns, I added a chart to my monthly spread. It’s a great visual, and I can decide if it works for me and if I want to keep it next month.

There is also something intensely therapeutic about going through and having a to-do list that is always getting checked off. Because I put everything in it from household chores (throw out the flowers) to more intensive projects (apply for scholarship), I am always marking off something I completed that day.

A shameless plug for the guy who put me onto bullet journaling. I only looked into it after seeing his Instagram post. You can check out his (new!) Instagram dedicated to bullet journaling at @minimaljournal.

If you are interested in starting your own bullet journal, check out bulletjournal.com. It is a great resource for learning the ins and outs of bullet journaling, with detailed explanations and lots of pictures.

Let me know if you start bullet journaling. How does it go for you? Do you love it as much as I do?