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A Year Worth Spent

As I reflect on the conclusion of my sophomore year at UMass Amherst I appreciate the fun times spent with some great friends as well as the lessons I learned inside and outside the classroom. Although the freshman gitters diminished upon entering my sophomore year, I still learned a tremendous amount about myself as I faced real life experiences throughout each and every day. I think however the most important aspect about my sophomore year of college was that I finally realized what I would like to do after my college career. 

On a whim, declaring Journalism as my major right before entering the spring semester was probably one of the smartest decisions I have ever made.  Enrolled in two Journalism courses for the spring and not knowing much about the major, I was extremely anxious to arrive back at school.  Knowing in my heart that I wanted to travel the world and write about people’s sufferings in hopes to bring about change, I knew I was in the right place.

Both courses, introduction to newswriting and reporting and introduction to photojournalism, not only provided key components to becoming a successful journalist but also reinforced my passion to become one. As my peers and I were forced to participate in specific circumstances, such as interviewing a police officer, asking a town hall official for their docket, or asking a stranger to take their picture, we experienced firsthand what it was like to be a journalist. From these experiences, it became clear that I had made the right decision.

As I continue on with my major and ultimately my career, I will be sure to bring along the lessons I learned in both classes.  I know now that I must always be ready for a story because I never know that when something may happen it may be worth reporting.  I understand that writing is vital and I must work hard in order to improve.  When writing I must remember to state facts rather than my opinion.  I also must include the entire story without leaving any information behind.  I must be courageous and make a difference. 

Although I may have little experience in the field,  I am determined in these next two years to learn as much as I can in and out of the classroom.  I know in my heart that I am meant to do this.  I want to make a differnce and I know this is a great place to begin.

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Juval Aviv speaks at UMass

Just weeks ago I was fortune enough to listen to the fascinating story of Juval Aviv. Born in Israel, Aviv’s incredible journey began as the personel body guard to his country’s prime minister. 

In 1972 after 11 Israeli olympic athletes were killed, Aviv, 24, was sent to find the terrorists of this horrific act.  For 4 1/2 years as a secret agent he hid searching intensely for these people.

As he began his speech with his journey as a secret agent for the country of Israel, I learned of this man’s vital position in society. With his introduction he segued into the reality of terrorism in our world.  Comparing both the United States to Israel, Aviv explained how incredibly unprepared the American people are for a terrorist attack.  He explained of an experiment that took place in both the United States and Israel.  Several years ago fake bombs were placed in major cities throughout each country as an experiment to test the people’s reaction to the supposed bomb. In Israel, people immediately evacuated the area as  Americans completely disregarded the bomb and continued on with their daily lives. With this example, Aviv challenged the audience to prepare for an attack. He stressed that it is vital for the American people to create an emergency plan with their loved ones in the event of a terrorist attack.

Aviv went on to discuss his work in financial fraud.  His major business investigated the Bernie Madoff case as he personally visits Madoff in his prison cell. 

As he answered a question pertaining to his daily life, Aviv nonchanatly added his monthly visit with President Obama.  Mouths dropped as he opened his cell phone and pointed to the President’s number.

Aviv however was not able to answer what he is working on currently.  Strongly connected with major individuals knowing a tremendous amount about governmental issues, Juval Aviv works diligently behind the scenes in order to keep our country safe from any harm.

Although I found it comforting to know men and women like Juval Aviv work every day to instill security, it is evident  that the American people or citizens from any country do not have the slighest inclination of what exactly happens behind the scenes.  As citizens we learn of particular occurences through the media.  The government tells the media what they should present to the world manipulating the people’s knowledge and opinions about the events that happen in our society.

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Riot for a Reason.

Students gathered outside John Quincy Adams house at 1130 p.m. on Sunday night after Osama bin Laden was killed. As they waved American flags and sang the national anthem the Umass Amherst community came together to celebrate the justice our nation finally gained after the terrorist’s death.  As the evening conitnued more and more students arrived at what was suppose to be a patriotic celebration. However as the crowd grew, the purpose of coming together quickly escalated from a celebration to a somewhat of a riot.

Although the intention began innocently, with many people gathered the purpose drifted. Students began yelling irrelevant chants as five students climbed on top of Berkshire dining hall. Fireworks went off between the southwest towers inevitably stirring up the crowd.  Cops eventually broke up the event at around 230 am.

Enthustiatic about the symbolic meaning of bin Laden’s death, I too participated in the gathering.  I hugged my friends and celebrated the strength of our country. I thought it was pretty awesome to see the entire southwest residential area invaded with students. As the night continued however, I wondered if everyone’s intentions were the same as mine. 

I think it was wonderful to witness such a vital moment in history but I found it a bit upsetting to see some students abuse this moment in order to go a little crazy.

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Is Drinking a Problem at UMass?

After listening to Sally Linoswk, the assistant director of Health Services here at UMass, I begin to question the reason why students drink so heavily.  As she presented many statistics found through multiple surveys taken over the years, it is evident that the students at UMass Amherst like to party. Although the partying has decreased significantly in the last six years, statistics prove that there has been a drastic increase in the event of “pregaming.”  Pregaming is when people drink in order to get drunk before going out.  Because this event has increased in the past years it proves that students drink solely to get drunk.  Before going to a desired destination for the night such as a sporting event, concert, or even a party students in their dorms/houses drink excessively.  I understand that drinking is culturally a social event but I do not see how it is considered “social” when the actual act of drinking is not even happening at the social event.

As I learn this information I begin to question the reason why students want to get entirely inebriated before arriving at an event. If students are getting drunk before going out I would imagine that they would not remember anything from the event they attended. Do they want to forget a concert they may have paid a lot of money  for? Maybe they do remember but I still do not see the point. I believe that our culture, especially college culture, has instilled in us this idea that they only way we can have fun is when alcohol or some other substance is involved.

I think people have forgotten how to have fun without the help from drinking.  They rely entirely on the substance’s effect and therefore can not remember what it was like to do particular things without it.

Sally Linowski feels it is necessary that every student participate in the BASICS program at UMass.  BASICS is a course a student must take after they have violated the University’s alcohol policy.  Although it is required for students to attend in order to clear their record, Linoswki believes that BASICS should not be presented to students as a punishment.  Because she sees the benefits of what the program can do to the improvements in a student’s drinking habits, Linowski wishes that everyone could participate in the course.  I think that if it were possible for this to happen students, after taking the course, may realize the negative effects of alcohol and remember how to have fun without it.

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A Helpful Panel.

After listening to a panel of Journalism majors who recently graduated from UMass, I am completely convinced that I have declared the right major. Although I am somewhat unclear as to what I want to do as my profession after college, it is clear to me, after listening to the panel, that this particular major provides a variety of career options. I found it so fascinating that each individual, although they graduated with same major, have completely differing professions.

Although the career options vary with a degree in Journalism, it is evident that writing is the most important aspect.  Writing is vital.  I hope that as I continue on with my second semester as a Journalism major, my writing will continue to improve more and more.

I learned after listening to the panel, that as a Journalism major, I can not sit around and wait for opportunities to come to me. If  I want to be successful in this field, I have get involved with the opportunities on campus as well as apply for many internships. It is evident, that Journalism is a field that can be quite difficult to teach.  If you are driven and passionate about a particular subject in the field then that is what you must work off of in order to be successful.

I gained a lot of helpful advice. Write what you know, what you are passionate about, and what you love. Apply to internships and learn as much as you can from them. Get involved on campus, especially the Collegian because taking courses do not suffice. Be ready to learn technical aspects of the media component of Journalism. Be open and ready for anything. You are constantly learning as the field is constantly changing. Do not give up and keep trying.

I am so glad I attended this event; not so I could write this particular blog but because I learned so much from it and it was very reassuring. This is what I want and need to do with my life.

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The Bang Bang Club

The Bang Bang Club, a new film by Steven Silver, was shown last week in the Thompson 106 auditorium.  The movie, based on the true events in the early 1990s in South Africa, told the story of four young combat photographers.  The film featured the struggle of these four photographers during the Apartheid.  With turmoil throughout the streets of South Africa, the distress is represented around the world because of the brave photographers who risked their lives to document such events.  As the country experienced complete mayhem, the brave journalists placed themselves directly in the middle of it all to gather the story and present it to the world and show them what was really happening.

It is my dream to become a photojournalist. I hope to document and provide people with the struggles that many face throughout the world. After watching this movie, I realized how difficult this profession can be and what major baggage may come with it.  As horrific events are documented by photojournalists, they must experience some negative side effects  after witnessing and then documenting images of human suffering that will ultimately stay with them forever.  Photojournalists face major criticism from the world for showcasing such terrors even though the events are exposed to the public eye. They must learn how to deal with such criticisms and not let it affect their motivation and ultimately their career.

I feel it is necessary that photojournalists continue to do what they have done for many years.  In today’s society people are so absorbed in themselves that they do not understand or can not even comprehend or wish to comprehend what other people around the world experience daily.  I find it inspiring that photojournalists bring the stories of many to the world in order to educate and notify society of the realities people face.  It is important that people are exposed to the different joys and struggles of varieties of lifestyles throughout many cultures throughout the world. The photojournalists did such this which is  portrayed in the movie, The Bang Bang Club, and it is my dream to do this as well.

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