It is hard to believe that my time here at Street Sense is winding down. Being an intern here has been a true blessing and has undeniably changed me.
Though I have only been in D.C. since January, these few months have pushed me to become a better journalist and a better person. Some recognition goes to my professors at The Washington Journalism Center, but much of this credit is owed to Street Sense.
I am originally from a small town in east Tennessee, where the landscape is mountainous and people are eager to befriend others. My first month in D.C. threw me into a world where I had to ask for sugar in my “sweet” tea and my smiles were met with stares.
When I found out I was going to spend a semester away from Milligan College to be a part of The Washington Journalism Center I was ecstatic. I knew I’d be able to intern somewhere, but the possibilities were endless, from The Washington Times and The Daily Caller to The Hill, but as soon as I saw a little newspaper called Street Sense with a purpose of covering homelessness and poverty, I knew I wanted to add my journalistic skills to a larger cause than journalism itself.
I am so grateful that I got to be a part of such an amazing cause. I have learned so much from my wonderful editors, Lisa and Mary, and I have also gained just as much from the vendors.
Through our interactions, the vendors have taught me how to be selfless and hard working. And though not all the vendors are upbeat about their situation, a good number of them are.
Interning at Street Sense has given me a broader perspective regarding homelessness and poverty; things that I may never have been exposed to if I had stayed back in Tennessee, where there is certainly poverty, but it’s hidden in pockets of neighborhoods you have to search for. The poverty here reaches out and knocks you over the head.
This internship has given me so much to think about: the privilege I was born into and the inequalities government and society glance over. I’ve learned through my reporting that you have to ask questions because there is always a back story.
Because of my internship with Street Sense I will never ignore someone sitting on the street again. As I prepare to leave and go back to school, I hope you’ll take heed from what I’ve learned: the next time you pass someone wearing that bright green vest, don’t just brush them off. Stop and take time to talk to them. Their stories might inspire you.