Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Journalism: Vocation Sans Vow of Celibacy!
One thing I’m thankful for about 2005 is the International Visitors Program where I had the opportunity to visit the United States. Call it serendipity. I really didn’t expect to be chosen for that program. It came at a time when I was wondering whether or not I should continue doing journalism. I was already doing short-term consulting for some international organizations when I got a call from the US embassy. The question was simple: Was I interested to go to the US? If the answer is yes, then I had to see Marilou at the embassy for initial briefing. I said yes, and the rest is history.
The program was fantastic both from educational and cultural point of view. I was able to clarify a lot of my preconceived notions about the Americans. Most of all, I gained a lot of friends from across the borders whom until now I continue to exchange messages with. I also learned a lot from their cultures, their ways, and their perspectives about the world.
Ah, journalism—I thought I knew every thing about how is it to be a “journalist.” Like, we always assume that all journalists smoke because of the daily pressures of work, love, and living. Supposedly, smoking is a tension reliever, besides being a badge of “cool.” And holy smoke! I learned during the first day (September 14) that only one of us from all over the world—Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, Middle East, and Africa—was smoking. She is the lady with a very beautiful name—Reem Khalifa (third person from left in picture number 3), a lady journalist from Bahrain. (Reem means "Arabian antelope." Isn’t that beautiful?) A few days after, she told me she decided to quit smoking. She said she needs to maintain good health for the sake of her beloved son. Nice mom, I thought. Are we a representative of the world’s journalism profession? If the answer is yes, then the world is indeed changing for the better.
On the way to the Los Angeles airport after the program (October 6), I shared the van with Rolando Barbano from Argentina. I could sense that Rolando was still sleepy from the night’s partying (somewhere in Malibu?), but we had an animated conversation about the life of journalists. It seems that journalists all over the world—we agreed—are underpaid. “This profession is really a vocation,” Rolando (the first person from left, picture number 3) said.
“Yes, like priesthood,” I replied. “But at least, we don’t have to observe a vow of celibacy!”
We burst with laughter as I disembarked for Gate # 2 (Was it number 2?).
“Keep in touch,” said Rolando.
“Sure,” I answered. “Keep in touch.”