Homesickness cured by jerk chicken and a surprisingly nice editor

The jerk chicken and rice and peas from Island Cuisine in the Emporium. Photo by Adeishe Bagaloo. (July 17, 2018)

Tuesday was my second day at the Greene Institute but I was already homesick because I missed mother.

The food lacked some things that I am used to, like Jamaican spices, and I was worried about what my editor Bill Bleyer would say about my profile after he had sent an initial email with direct comments that were a little intimidating. I wanted to go home.

Luckily, in person Bleyer was kind and reassuring and guided me how to improve my story.

Even better, the buffet we normally have at dinner was closed and we got to make our own food choices. The Jamaican buffet, Island Cuisine, caught my eye and I immediately went to check it out. I felt a little bit less homesick when I saw food that I love and I was excited to try it. I got rice and peas, jerk chicken and fried plantains. The food did not taste exactly like what I got at home but the Jamaican flavor in the mix made me happy.

The food at East Side Dining cured my homesickness.

Zoe Gordon: An accidental journey to journalism

By Adeishe Bagaloo
Uniondale High School

At the start of high school, Zoe Gordon signed up for journalism by accident and immediately found a passion for it.

Zoe, a student at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, had to choose between her school newspaper and the yearbook staff. Her choice was the newspaper staff.

She has now been a part of her school’s journalism program for two years, and having developed a relationship with them, she said they are now like her family. “It’s like an instinct was telling me to sign up for it,” she said.

The most successful story she wrote, in her opinion, was about a first quarter issue. Her story was about Smart guns. According to Bloomberg News, smart gun technology is used to control guns in a way that they are able to detect their owners. Zoe said she found this to be her most interesting story because she was not educated about the topic and that helped her to apply herself and gather information well.

“I just immersed myself in information,” Zoe said. In her opinion, the story helped her to become more courageous because it provided her with the opportunity to communicate with a diverse group of people. This is something she believed she wouldn’t have done under regular circumstances. “I talked to police officers, people at my school and other people about their opinions,” she continued.

On February 14, 2018, a gruesome shooting happened at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The incident inspired Zoe to become more passionate about journalism. “Being able to tell my story and the story of others at my school has really made me want to pursue journalism as a career,” she said.

Zoe’s motivation as a student journalist is the response she gets when she publishes a story. “The reactions you get from sharing your story on a much broader basis, it really shows me how much people care to hear your story and see the truth,” she said. She said she is absolutely determined to get the truth out of a story to the nation.

When Zoe is not practicing journalism, she said she is either doing Pilates exercises, hanging out with friends or dancing.

“She does dancing in her spare time, she is passionate about journalism and she is a straight A student,” her brother, Zach Gordon, said.

Zoe said the people in her circle, including her teachers, parents and brother, are very supportive and influence her significantly on the person she is and her journey of becoming an outstanding journalist. “My newspaper teacher encourages us to go outside of the box and come up with new ideas to just convey a story really good and my parents really support me,” she said.

Zoe’s role model in the field of journalism is Hoda Kotb, a “Today Show” anchor. She is looking forward to pursuing journalism at the Syracuse University. Zoe said she cares about the voices of others and she believes that journalism can help her be someone else’s voice.

“I can express myself in a way that shares information with others,” she said.

I found my passion!

I’m busy at work at the Long Island Ducks ballgame. Photo by Inna Ali. (July 18, 2018)

I came to Stony Brook University Saturday not remotely aware that I was about to have an experience of a lifetime. After five days at the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists, I can safely say that I have had the full journalism experience and it was great!

On the first day we warmed up by meeting to discuss the stories we were interested in writing about. The Greene Team was enthusiastically spitting out ideas. It was impressive.

We got straight to the action on the second day when learned the fundamentals of writing, reporting, photography and videography. My favorite part was photography. I was never interested in photography before because I wasn’t educated about it. But as soon as I learned about f-stop, shutter speed, ISO and exposure, I was ready to capture some magic.

On Tuesday, there were more lessons from the day before, and we prepared to for our field reporting assignments.

My favorite day of the whole week was Wednesday. We got a chance to meet professors and veteran journalists Marcy McGinnis and Connie Conway. I got a chance to sit in the broadcast studio and serve as a reporter as well as a member of the technical support team. I was nervous at first about speaking on camera, but I enjoyed it.

Later that day the Greene Team got a chance to tour Newsday’s newsroom and learn a little bit more about the paper’s history. Did you know Newsday was started by Alicia Patterson in 1940?

After the Newsday tour, we were journeyed to a Long Island Ducks game. We got a chance to hold a press conference with Michael Polak, the director of media relations and broadcast. Then we went out into the stands to interview people for our story. I approached people to ask them questions, something I wouldn’t have done in my normal day-to-day life. Some people didn’t want to talk, but I didn’t feel discouraged by it. As my mom always says, “You have to have a thick skin to become a journalist.” I guess I just developed my thick skin!

I really enjoyed my days here at Greene Insitute. It was an opportunity of a lifetime and I will take the skills I developed here make them useful. I walked into this program torn between two professions—acting and journalism—and I’m walking away stuck on journalism. It has everything I’ve ever been interested in and I’m grateful to have had this experience.