I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I first began reporting around Park Merced, Lake Merced, Lakeside and San Francisco State University. All I had heard from students who had previously taken this course was that it was going to be a lot of hard work and I would have to step out of my comfort zone if I wanted to even have a chance at passing the class.
This definitely was true. This class wasn’t always easy, especially these last few weeks. I scheduled interviews with people, only to have them cancel last minute. I scheduled to interview a person, only to realize after an hour of waiting that he had bailed on me without any notice.
However, reporting here did have its perks. For one, this class forced me to breach my comfort zone. At the beginning of the semester, it would take me hours before I would strike up the nerve to approach people. I’m not kidding. I would sit at the benches by the Creative Arts building and watch people walk by, trying to convince myself to get up and talk to people. That soon subsided and I began to thoroughly enjoy writing about what people had to say.
I also held a lot of interesting and intellectual conversations with people and even made friends with some of the people I approached to talk to. There are many people on campus and in the surrounding area who are friendly and are often willing to talk, especially if it’s about something that they care about. There are a vast majority of issues on campus that people care about, from problems revolving around commuting to school to the Cesar Chavez Student Center merger agreement. It was interesting to talk to people on campus and find out about issues they are concerned about. In contrast, it was interesting to talk to people who had absolutely no clue about any issues on campus and did not know what I was talking about when I would ask about certain topics.
My favorite areas grew to be the Student Center and the J. Paul Leonard Library. There are a lot of people that hang out at these locations and there always seems to be something going on. My favorite pastime became sitting on the benches between the Fine Arts building and the Creative Arts building and observing student life as groups of friends shared jokes and others sped past in order to avoid being late to their class.
I also grew to love Lake Merced, a place I didn’t really think would be so interesting. I thought it would be like the lake close to where I live, only busy when there are events held there. It turns out that Lake Merced is almost always busy. There were people there no matter the time of day I went there or the weather.
After reporting in my neighborhood all semester, I can say that I’ve learned quite a lot about the neighborhood and about myself as a journalist.
Best of luck to future reporting students! It’s hard, but it’s worth it. See you around.