By Maria Hechanova
When I arrived at the Seaport Hotel on Monday, I met one of the AAJA Voices students, April Choi. We decided to scout the Boston World Trade Center to see where the newsroom was located before our first meeting. After a couple of escalator rides and a good 10-minute talk with security, we were able to find what would be called the AAJA Convention Project newsroom.
After walking through endless hallways, April and I found Waterfront Room 3. The adventure ended as we entered the room, shocked and confused. We weren’t sure if we were in the right place. The room was empty except for a couple of tables, one computer and a printer.
After getting a bite to eat, we ran into more Convention News Project students. We introduced ourselves and hung out in the hallway before our meeting.
Before we knew it, six o’clock rolled around. The mentors and editors arrived and we all sat down. I felt intimidated. I didn’t know what to expect.
That night, a group of us huddled in my hotel room and worked on the stories assigned to us. We had one thing in common — we were all nervous about what the editors expected from us.
The next few days looked like this: Hunched over our computers, we were surrounded by white table cloths, faint chatter, fattening food and snacks, and easel papers tapped to the room divider, blaring our deadlines. We rarely had a chance to go outside of the newsroom.
One thing happened though: we stopped working to see a sunset. It was a nice break from the intense atmosphere. We giggled, took a couple of pictures and had a chance to smile and enjoy the moment. I was no longer intimidated.
As this Convention News Project comes to a close, I’m so thankful I got the opportunity to learn from professionals. I got to know the other students really well, too. We were learning, networking and really making connections. This was more than just exchanging business cards and saying what’s-up.
If it weren’t for AAJA and being selected for the Convention News Project, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t have been able to afford to come to Boston. I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to pursue my dream. Thanks AAJA! You rock!