Lucy Martirosyan, Class of 2018
Ruben wasn’t a fan of journalism. That’s what he told me in 2017. He was more interested in Call of Duty and game design. But he needed an elective to graduate the High School of Commerce, so he ended up with Community Journalism.
I hear myself laughing a lot in the recorded interview I did with Ruben back then. I still have it saved on my Google Drive. It was my first day at Commerce. I was nervous. I didn’t know what to expect. I remember thinking, how am I going to teach multimedia journalism to these teens if they’re not even interested?
The following week, I revisited my recording of Ruben. I wanted to produce a story out of it and show him why I like radio journalism. I re-listened to the tape where I asked him about his favorite memory of Community Journalism. His response humbled me. He said that he loves meeting us, the college students.
Nicholas McBride emphasized empowering the high school students in Springfield through experimental learning. Sometimes that goal felt vague. But I reminded myself that the teenagers had just as much, if not more, to teach us as we had to teach them.
I decided, whether Ruben knew it or not, he knew how to practice journalism. He even helped me recognize the importance of vulnerability in the profession. After all, the best conversations come from the curiosity to connect with strangers, which Ruben, and his classmates, would do with us, the UMass students.
Later that spring semester, I asked the music teacher at Commerce if we could borrow recording equipment to set up an open mic in the classroom.
The result was eye-opening. Not only did high school students perform, but so did college students, teachers, and professors. The performances ranged from original rap lyrics, poetry, deconstructing artists like Jay-Z, and even, simply, sharing personal thoughts.
One could argue that performance art has nothing to do with journalism. But in so many ways, it does. We trusted each other that day to share and listen to each other’s stories.It’s important to note that the majority of college students came from white, suburban, middle class backgrounds. For many of us, it was our first time interacting with Black students and students of color, many of whom were familiar with crime violence, gangs, and drug abuse in Springfield.
Through Community Journalism, Nick and Carlos pulled us away from our respective bubbles and brought us together into a creative space where we could learn from one another and produce multimedia stories together. Going forward with my career, I’ll always remember this class, and how the students taught me how wonderfully unpredictable and vulnerable people can be.