by Clare Duffy |
Many people, when you tell them you want to be a journalist, look at you like you’ve just grown a second head.
Even more people, when you tell them you want to be a foreign correspondent, look at you like you’ve grown a third.
And the majority of people, when you tell them that a former foreign correspondent’s story of being kidnapped on the job and talking her way out of it made you excited, will look at you with the half-confused, half-sympathetic smile of someone who’s just realized the person they’ve been talking to doesn’t actually speak English, and shuffle away.
Welcome to many an uncomfortable family dinner I’ve attended in recent years.
But it’s true, and Tina Susman’s presentation about her career as a foreign correspondent was thus truly the cherry on top of my CMA 2016 experience.
What had once seemed such a foreign and far-off goal for my future (no pun intended), became so vividly real and tangible, as she recounted memories of a harrowing drive through the Kashmir Mountains and wandering in disguise through the streets of Baghdad.
And beyond the wild experiences she had had and the horrible things she had seen, Susman spoke of the goodness of many of the people she encountered along the way, and this truly hit at the heart of why I want to be a journalist abroad. People who speak different languages helping one another to make sure marginalized voices are heard, people of vastly disparate backgrounds coming together to promote the spread of truth in times of crisis, this power for social good that journalism allows has driven me in this direction. And in every sad or upsetting or infuriating story she told, these bits shined through – the translator who helped her when she knew no one after being sent on a last-minute assignment to cover the earthquake in Haiti, the hotel bellman who aided in her escape after being kidnapped in Somalia, the other foreign journalists living abroad whom she would invite over for tea in the midst of an often chaotic work environment.
I’m not sure where I’ll end up when I leave school and can stop pretending to devote my resources to anything other than journalism (just kidding, Mom), but I hope that wherever I am, I’ll be able to speak with the humble candor and genuine appreciation for the experiences that Susman exuded during her presentation. And that I, too, will be so willing to help and encourage young journalists that I’ll stay an hour beyond my allotted presentation time to answer their questions.
Thank you, Tina.