Writers, journalists and everyone in between: I know what you should do this summer

With my suitcase in one hand, newly-purchased clothing hangers in the other, and a pack overflowing with clothes on my back, I arrived at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus. In the dead of July, New York City would be my home for the next two weeks.

Last summer, I attended the School of the New York Times summer journalism program. Seth Kugel, a travel journalist for the New York Times, Seth Kugel, led my class of choice, “Writing the Big City: Reporting in New York,” alongside his teaching assistant, Gus. From interviewing world-renowned journalists to exploring the city with newfound friends, I can confidently say these were the best 14 days of my life. And I don’t throw around that statement lightly.

After I climbed the elevator to the 19th floor, a view of the New York skyline, and a roommate from Washington, D.C. welcomed me in my dorm room. I could ask for nothing more. This was my premature taste of the college experience. Having a bathroom shared only with my roommate and two suitemates felt like the finest of luxuries. How I preferred this layout to the one at Central Washington University during the annual Bellarmine cheer camp—but most things are better than a communal bathroom. The nearby Target, Whole Foods, and Nordstrom, with Central Park nearby for daily runs, made it feel all-the-more homey.

The first day of the class consisted of introductions, reminders of basic journalistic practices, and a short writing assignment to end the day. And as the week went on, the experience only got better. My class interviewed foreign correspondent Matthieu Aikins over Zoom and practiced writing profiles based on the conversation. The head food critic at the NYT, Pete Wells, helped us write food reviews after dining at restaurants from our field trip to Jackson Heights, Queens. In fact, we took multiple day trips to Jackson Heights, and our final project centered in this suburb of Queens. Check it out in my most recent article: https://bellarminelion.com/features/2023/01/02/the-tibetan-community-of-jackson-heights-conservation-through-cuisine/.

If real-world journalism isn’t your thing, there are different classes to suit your interests. You can select the New York or Washington D.C. locations and take courses ranging from “The Foreign Correspondent: Global Reporting,” “Writing for Television: Inside the Writers’ Room,” “Food Culture in N.Y.C.,” “Political Commentary,” “Inside the UN,” “Sports Storytelling,” “Entrepreneurship for Social Impact,” among many others listed at https://nytedu.com/pre-college/summer-academy/nyc/course-catalog/?. From writing to politics to even fashion and business, you can tailor the experience for yourself. Financial aid is available, as well.

While this was an educational experience, I also spent my evenings and weekends hopping about New York City with new friends from North Carolina and Brazil and the United Kingdom (and the list goes on and on). I saw Into the Woods on Broadway (with Phillipa Soo and a star-studded cast, the Hamilton lover in me was fuh-reaking). Between laughs at the New York City Comedy club, big bites at the Smorgasbord food festival in Brooklyn, and credit-card swipes at the SoHo shops, I lived and learned in New York City—with occasional subway-riding mishaps being a combination of the two.

I went into the adventure blind: the Internet, YouTube, and various online forums were of little help. Truthfully, already drowning in summer activities and impending college applications, I asked my parents if I could stay home. I am so glad they said, “no.” So, whether you plan to attend this camp, waiter at your neighborhood restaurant, or sleep until noon each day this summer, meet new people, learn something new, and push outside of your comfort zone. If you are seeking an experience to transform your writing this summer, and are itching for a shred of independence, I hope you apply for this opportunity. You will not regret it.

(Link to application: https://sage-learn.formtitan.com/sonyt-sa-app#/)

Photo courtesy of Allison Berg