To Spain and back: an intern’s transformation
Well, I’m back. Back in New Richmond, back at The News, back in the country. Almost a year has passed since I completed my first internship here, and although I’m still processing many of my experiences, I can tell you one thing: I’m not the same person who walked through the door of The News in June 2013.
I’ve always been a small-town girl, but my desire to see the world finally led me to pack my bags and move to Segovia, Spain, last fall. During the four months I spent abroad, I learned more than I ever could have dreamed. The challenges presented by being a linguistic minority, the joy of adopting a host family as my own and the thrill of traveling to Ireland, Greece, Italy, Switzerland and England transformed my philosophy of life.
As I enter my senior year at Bethel University, I’m trying to pinpoint what has changed and what has stayed the same. I’m still a triple major in journalism, Spanish and reconciliation studies, but my crystal-clear career path seems to have decomposed into one big question mark.
From the moment I declared journalism as my primary major, I wanted to be a sports reporter. I wanted to work in a small town like New Richmond, watching the hometown heroes rile up the crowd under those Friday night lights. But what I’ve realized over the past year — what I’ve finally come to terms with — is that my desires are different from my calling.
After seeing widespread poverty, dehumanizing discrimination and blatant misogyny in Europe, I began to recognize the injustices occurring in my own corner of the world. According to studies by the Pew Research Center, African Americans comprise 55 percent of all firearm homicide victims, women still earn anywhere from 16 to 23 percent less money than men, and the U.S. income gap is the widest it’s been since 1928.
These are complex problems that demand rigorous preparation, especially if journalism is my primary platform. One of the most influential mentors in my life likes to remind me that life is a journey, and the path is full of new people from whom I can learn.
Lucky for me, The News is full of new faces this summer. Even though I might end up at a human rights organization in Chicago or a battered women’s shelter in Peru, issues of social justice aren’t exclusive to developing countries or the inner city. They affect people in this community — it’s just a matter of giving a voice to the voiceless.
Jenny Hudalla, the New Richmond High School Class of 2011 valedictorian, is the intern at The News for the second straight summer. She is a senior at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minn., majoring in journalism, Spanish and reconciliation studies.