Monday, May 7, 2012

Life after J-school

Reasons I wanted to become a journalist (in no particular order):

1. I didn't get into law school.

2. I love to write. I just have no ambition without looming deadlines.

3. Nepal.

Reasons I want to still be a journalist after J-school:

1. It's a part of who I am.

I spent part of my childhood in Nepal. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love that country. But part of my love stems from childhood remembrance. I don't remember the adjustment period, the racial slurs, the language barriers. I just remember being happy. Simple. Pure. Joy.

Moving back from Nepal is still to this day the hardest thing I have ever had to do. And for years after I still felt that the way I mourned for my old life was something of a weakness. Something that could be put behind me. Overcome. And I never did.

I sat through a workshop entitled Journalists & Risks last November. The main discussion focused around post traumatic stress disorder and how journalists who go abroad covering war zones, natural disasters etc. are sometimes prone to it. The impact of some of the things and events they experience impact their lives in ways they couldn't possibly have imagined from a lecture hall in university. Journalists don't always realize that there are steps that can be taken to deal with PTSD because they don't always realize that the jobs they are faced with are affecting them in such a way.

My family left Nepal during the first couple years after the outbreak of the civil war. We returned six months after the murder of the entire royal family, when the conflict was engulfing the country and the evidence was seen in the abandoned villages, in the armed soldiers searching our car, in the gunshots heard after dark in the rural village my father, brother and I spent a night in.

This IS the reason I wanted to become a journalist. Because I, along with the rest of the world, didn't understand the situation and for the most part ignored it. I, like other journalists, didn't realize that I had to address what I had seen and what I had experienced in order to move on. But I didn't. And I'm still here, struggling to keep my head above water. Struggling to know what I want to do and how I am going to do it.

"If you haven't been there, then you can't understand it."


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