Everyone has a story to share and most people are passionate about telling you theirs. That doesn’t mean that their eagerness to conduct an interview with you will translate into them being able to do it at the last minute. When I realized my first interview wouldn’t work out, I started going through backup plans A-Z. Each one led to a rejection, and the deadline kept coming closer and closer. It was easy to start freaking out.

It wasn’t until hours later, after I found a new source, completed my interview, and calmed down a bit that I realized this is exactly what real life is like. On any given day, in the world of journalism, or in many careers, this can happen. I was able to step back afterward and realize just how necessary it is to be adaptable and not get flustered when faced with a situation of this kind. Not everything will be easy. Life won’t go according to plan and we may be stuck, just hours away from the deadline, with a crashed computer, missing files, lost work or, in my case, without a story.

Along with various other reasons, this is a major part of why I’m so grateful to have been a part of this year’s Next Generation Radio Project in Philadelphia. My mentor, along with everyone else working on the project, helped me in every way they could and calmed me down before I started sobbing into my computer, thinking that I had no story at all. They taught me teamwork, collaboration, and the importance of getting all hands on deck in a crisis. They helped me to succeed in the end. Next Gen Radio gave me insight into the world of fast-paced, unpredictable journalism and forced me to step out of my comfort zone. I loved every moment of it (except the freaking out part).

My experience throughout this entire week can be described as a week of discovery. I discovered my ability to work under tighter deadlines and rushed situations. I discovered the world of audio journalism, including equipment, production and editing. I discovered how big a team is behind the scenes of every multimedia journalism project. Finally, I discovered a community outside of my own, both in and outside of the workspace.

Learning about my subject Waleed Saleh’s life and hearing his story was eye-opening. It was a completely different experience to sit down with him and listen to what he has endured because of the civil war in Yemen than to hear about it on the news. It is an experience I will never forget.

I discovered a great community here at Next Gen Radio and made relationships and friendships that I know I will keep after this week comes to a close.

My time here was humbling and was a learning experience that I will reflect on for the rest of my career. From coming in nervous, but excited and going through a week packed with work and coffee, I am happy to have had this week with Next Gen Radio. As I move forward, I can’t wait to use the new skills and advice I gained this week.

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