The adventures of storytelling in a different country

By Ashley Skinner

I was the editor-in-chief of my high school newspaper.

I wrote for my local, hometown paper for three years.

I won State in the news competition my senior year in high school.

I was a reporter and news editor of the Texas State newspaper, the University Star.

Through all that, the hardest thing I’ve had to do regarding journalism was travel to a different country and gather information to write stories weeks later.

At McKenzie High School in Linden, Guyana, we were able to talk with students of all ages. One student, Sharisee, asked me about my field of journalism, and told me she wanted to go into broadcast journalism. Talking with these kids made me realize how they make good out of unideal situations.

Journalists love new experiences and a change of scenery. Going to Guyana, I knew I would get a change of scenery, a new perspective on life and a new experience with storytelling.

However, weeks later, I did not know I would long to tell more of the Guyanese peoples’ stories.

While our team was in Guyana for 11 days, we spent our time listening. We didn’t go through the hospital each day looking for sources; we went through the hospital listening deeply to the community members of Georgetown and Linden, looking for a niche where we could fit to best tell their stories to our communities back in the states.

As we were leaving the high school, I saw a group of kids practicing basketball. Their coach was helping them learn how to work as a team and shoot the ball. I could help but reminisce on my days of playing basketball, wanting to go out there and teach these kids as much as I could.

The hardest part was listening to their voices, so full of passion and pride for their country, and being the person designated to transfer that same passion into a story for others to read.

Like I said, I’ve done this before in my high school community and in the Texas State/San Marcos community. But this, this was so different.

I was dealing with a completely different country that doesn’t really matter to people in the United States, honestly. People here are interested in what we as a team did, not necessarily the content in our stories.

Listening to the people of Guyana broke my heart in some ways. They have gone through so much, but they are strong. They endure life in such a different way than we do and have so many stories to tell about it.

All they needed was a bunch of kids from Texas to listen to them for a few days. In that time we managed to do everything a journalist should do:

We told people’s stories in a way that others can relate.

We showed people how others live; we made them see how good their lives are here in the U.S.

We gave people a reason to take action on things they feel passionate about.

We informed people.

We helped people.

We inspired people.

We are journalists.

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