I think I forgot to tell my mom I went to D.C. 

It occurred to me while standing in front of the Captiol building that I wasn’t sure if I had told my parents I would be traveling to D.C. today for the March for Life. 

So, hey mom. I went to D.C. today. Sorry I didn’t tell you. 

I’ve been doing a lot of writing on busses lately. I’m currently traveling overnight on a bus back to Hillsdale after attending the March for Life. 

Hillsdale Students for Life took over 100 students to attend the 2018 March for Life in Washington, D.C.. Although I travelled with the group, I was actually there reporting for the Hillsdale Collegian. With thousands of people packed onto the National Mall, it was quite the experience.

I reported on several protests over the summer while interning for The Federalist, but none of them were anywhere near this large. Covering events like protests is probably my favorite kind of journalism. It’s a boots-on-the-ground, high-energy kind of reporting. Even when the march was moving at a crawl, or not at all, I was having a good time. 

Experiences like this only reinforces my decision to be a journalist. Most parts of journalism are not trips to Israel, high-profile scoops, or heart-pounding breaking news. They are two nights on a bus and long days of walking. They are hours spent going over footage and editing interviews. They are the drudgery behind the story. 

But this trip also showed me another important aspect of journalism: community. 

I was one of four reporters for the Collegian on the trip (although only two of us were actually acting as reporters for the march), and together we met up with several other Collegian writers, past and present. 

During our downtime after the march, we wandered around D.C., talked about journalism, and just enjoyed each other’s company. Being in an office all night once a week brings people together in a unique way.  We’re friends, colleagues, and fellow students. We switch from talking about our families to article ideas and back again. 

But my community of journalists spreads even wider than the small pocket on Hillsdale’s campus. I had several other young journalists attending the March for Life reach out to me afterward to say they had also been in attendance and that we should have met up. 

I know that journalism tends to be an industry where everyone knows everyone, but seeing this in action is encouraging. It’s nice to know that I won’t be alone in the workforce, that no matter where I end up, I’ll have some sort of connection. 

In the end, today was about community: a community of pro-lifers, a community of journalists, a community of friends. No matter who you are or what you’re passionate about, you’ll have someone by your side. 

Whether you’re talking, writing, or marching, there is always a community waiting to do it with you. 


I accidentally went into a men-only pool: Israel, Day 7

Turns out the hotel pool has separate hours for men and women.

I did not know this when I went in.

Finding this out when I tried to go again the next day explained a lot about my first visit. Embarrassing myself apparently comes naturally, no matter what country I’m in.

We spent all of yesterday exploring Jerusalem and visiting the holy sites of the city.

We started at the Mount of Olives, before making our way into the Garden of Gethsemane and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Pools of Bethesda

My favorite part of the day was when we stopped at the Church of St. Ann. There is a tradition of singing inside the church, and the acoustics were gorgeous.

After getting lunch in the city, we had the opportunity to do some shopping downtown Jerusalem. My partner and I instead headed to the tattoo shop to interview for our stories.

Being in the field with a camera again felt really good. After working with mostly print over the last semester, it was nice to stretch the audiovisual muscles.

I had to raise my microphone to get some ambient sound

A few of our friends also got tattoos, although I won’t rat out which ones.

Days like yesterday are so busy it’s difficult to process everything we saw, much less pull meaning from it yet.

One thing that did strike me was when we were in the garden. It was full of olive trees, and our guide told us that olive trees have a unique quality where new trees can grow from old root systems. Even though trees themselves might be only a few hundred years old, their root systems might be much older.

This is representative of the church. Even though Christians are only here for a lifetime, their roots go much deeper. The church is our root system; we are merely the branches.

We are nearing the close of our trip, but I will be blogging the rest of it as well. Be sure to check back for a post about today, or follow me on twitter at @jordynpair.


Four ways to know if a mortar is coming: Israel, Day 6

There are four ways to know if a mortar is coming.

1. You hear the explosion of it being launched. If you hear that sound, run.

2. You hear the whistling of it coming in. If you hear that sound, run.

3. You hear it explode. Mortars always comes in groups. If you hear that sound, run.

4. You receive an SMS message from the IDF. They have spotted someone launching a mortar. If you hear the text, you can walk.

Today our group went to the border of the Gaza Strip. We heard from a speaker who told us what it was like to live among consistent sirens and dropping mortars. She described what it was like to have 15 seconds to find your child and the nearest shelter.

I saw a playground with a bomb shelter today. I was in a school protected from falling rockets.

Nothing else puts your own problems in perspective.

Many of the places we have visited on this trip have been of historical or spiritual significance. They have been ruins and tourist destinations. But there were no shops here, no street vendors. Just a quiet town, a few dogs, and the wind clawing at our coats.

We were supposed to visit the border earlier. We had to reschedule because they had three warnings in one day.

I like to think of journalists as the second responders. We are there behind the soldiers, the fighters, the doers. When the rockets fall, we are the ones with cameras pointed. When people run for shelter, we run after them with a notebook.

That is why visiting places like the border of the Gaza Strip is important. It tells you what kind of journalist you are. It tells you what kind of stories you can stomach.

The story of this town is not an easy one to swallow. No child should have to seek a bomb shelter every day. Not everyone can write this story.

But I’d like to try. I’d like to be that second responder.

There are four ways to know a mortar is coming. There are 15 seconds to find shelter from it.

There are a thousand ways to tell this story.



I still can’t spell Jerusalem: Israel, Day 4

It might take me three tries to spell it every time, but that’s where we are for the next few days.

We started our day with a quick debriefing session at the hotel about the articles we will be writing. Right now, we are working on narrowing our topics down and starting to think about who we need to get in touch with. I am working with the amazing Bre Payton, who works at The Federalist. I also interned at The Federalist this past summer and worked with her then, so having her input on my story is such a blessing.

After we left the hotel, we drove to Mt. Precipice, overlooking Nazareth. We had a short devotional and heard from our guide about the history of the location. Like a lot of places we’ve visited, Mt. Precipice is one where they are almost certain Jesus himself walked.

Next, we headed into Nazareth. We toured a recreation of what part of the town would have looked like, including renactments of traditional industries, such as carpentry and spinning. One thing that stood out to me during the tour, however, was the Muslim call to prayer echoing in the background. Many parts of Israel have Muslim populations, and their calls to prayer can often be heard, even while touring a Christian holy site. This juxtaposition of religions is just one reason this country is so interesting.

While at Nazareth, we also had the opportunity to have an authentic ancient meal. All the dishes were exactly as residents of the town would have eaten at the time, and I can honestly say it is the most flavorful meal I have ever had.

After lunch, we toured a church erected in honor of the Virgin Mary, and then headed to Jerusalem. Instead of having any speakers or events, we were given the rest of the day to explore the city on our own. A group of us went into full tourist mode and hunted down the market place and a few hookah bars (sorry, Mom).

Even on a Wednesday night in the middle of January, the streets bustled with people. In my hometown, the streets are fairly empty after around 9 p.m., and even in D.C. everything was fairly quiet once the sun had set. In Jerusalem, however, everything was still vibrant and busy. Advertisers would stand outside restaurants to try to offer seating, and vendors would hold out samples, even as it pushed toward 10 p.m. I’m so excited to stay here for a few more days. Our group already has plans to return downtown.

Since these posts seem to be getting a good reaction, I have to ask: is there anything you would like to hear about? Let me know in the comments or reach out to me on Twitter at @JordynPair. And be sure to follow there for updates throughout the day!