Budding High School Journalists Inspire him

I say it every year in the middle of our ThreeSixty Journalism Workshop at St. Thomas (concluding last Friday) for high school students who come here to try their hand at reporting, writing, photographing, editing and designing:

I’m getting too old for this stuff. It’s like trying to herd cats.

“Nim, No one’s calling me back.”
“I don’t how to get started with this story.”
“Nim, I didn’t know the sound wasn’t on.”
“No, I didn’t get his last name. Do I need it?
“Nim, I think I left the tripod at Lake Harriet.”

This year our task was to match 15 teenagers with sources to talk about immigration and the new demographic landscape of Minnesota and the Twin Cities. The student reporters, themselves, were a reflection of the changing demographics: Morris Martinez, Hibo Ahmed, Mahmood Karimi, YungJen Vang, Zawadi Mbele.

At the end of two weeks, with considerable help from Lynda McDonnell (ThreeSixty’s executive director), Rhoda Fukushima (Pioneer Press) and Jerry Holt (Star Tribune), this crew of kids produced a good-looking newspaper, a website and three video tracks of stories and pictures of immigrants and refugees and their trials and triumphs in a new land. You can check out their work at www.threesixtyjournalism.org, or call me and I'll send you a copy of the newspaper.

Matthew Trammel wrote a story about the struggles of southeast Asians to understand and deal with fishing regulations; Victoria Lannom profiled a 91-year-old Norwegian woman who came to Minnesota as an immigrant in 1948; and Matthew Aguilar examined the impact of English as a Second Language students on public schools in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Anika Bowie wrote, shot and edited a video story (with the help of St. Thomas 2009 grad Allison McDonald) about an interracial couple, Laura Lee and Abe, who are raising three children, holding two jobs and bridging cultures that stretch 8,000 miles from Minnesota’s Iron Range to Laos’ highlands.

Morris and YungJen (with the help of UST 2009 grad Pat Donohoe) told the story of two Twin Cities thoroughfares – Lake Street and University Avenue – and the vitality that first and second-generation immigrants brought with their new shops, restaurants and markets. On a couple of days, the three of them were shooting pictures before I got there in the morning. And they were back out on the street after I left in the afternoon to “get some shots after dark.” How’s that for hustle?

When the camp was over, Anika Bowie, who did the story about Abe and Laura, admitted she was nervous at first, doubting whether she had the skills to do a good job of telling stories. She got over that in a hurry.

“My interviews were great,” she wrote. “I never experienced doing this. I got to meet new people I never would have met before. This venture widened my perspective of journalism. …

“Having the opportunity to hear real-life stories and to have images of how I want to tell them is inspirational.”

Young men and women like Anika are inspirational. The fact that a few of them are thinking about attending St. Thomas when they graduate from high school is even more inspiring.

Maybe I have one more workshop in me.