Broadening Horizons

I believe in seizing opportunities to broaden my horizons. Gaining new experiences and knowledge enriches and adds flavor to my life. Meeting new people, discovering interesting clubs and attending unique community events have led me to learn more about others as well as myself and my interests. I am fortunate to be involved in my high school’s newspaper, The WEB. It has given me the opportunity to be regularly exposed to exciting experiences like these. Being a reporter sometimes requires stepping out of one’s comfort zone to investigate intimidating topics. It is from researching and writing these stories that I gain the most. Recently, I wrote an article about the extent of poverty in my town, Ames. I wished to become more aware of the issue, and, as the editor of the News section, I felt it would be valuable for other students know more about it as well. On a chilly Tuesday morning, I rang the doorbell of a light-brown stucco house, distinguished from its neighbors by a small sign above the doorway, on which was printed “Emergency Residence Project” in black letters. The director opened the door: I saw a middle-aged man with glasses, graying hair and a kind smile. I took a seat on a slightly tattered maroon couch while he proceeded to reveal a series of shocking and appalling facts, the worst of which was that “a quarter of jobs in Ames do not pay a living wage.” Other information I learned was expected but still saddening: low-cost housing is nearly nonexistent in Ames, lawmakers are generally against helping impoverished people for political reasons, children in poverty are far more likely to become criminals later on and so forth. I left the interview with mixed feelings. The facts and statistics were depressing, but I was deeply inspired by the director’s determination to do all he could to help struggling families. I felt grateful to have gained so much knowledge and insight from just one interview. After interviewing the leader of another leading organization dedicated to helping struggling families, I compiled the information into an informative, but touching article that went on the front page of The WEB. The whole experience moved me to do my part to support the cause. Now, once or twice a week, I go back to the brown stucco house to tutor young children whose families are being helped by the Emergency Residence Project. One time I taught a young girl how to subtract; another time I helped an older child with her figurative language assignment. It is truly rewarding to guide these bright but often neglected children towards the path to success. I am glad that in America, the First Amendment guarantees the freedom of the press, for I consider being on The WEB to be one of my most valuable activities. It has introduced me to new people and valuable experiences that have allowed me to broaden my horizons and develop into a better, more knowledgeable person. Sandy Huang received third place in the 2009 First Amendment Day EssayContest, sponsored by the Iowa High School Press Association and theGreenlee School of Journalism and Communication at Iowa StateUniversity. Click here to learn more about First Amendment Day at Iowa State University.