The three-week ‘Summer Work Experience’ scheme I joined last summer was definitely a ‘once in a life time’ experience to me. I have learnt a lot of lessons of life during three weeks of being a reporter and have grown a lot.
When I first found out I was assigned to be a reporter, I was thrilled to bits. I had always wanted to be an on-screen reporter as they could go to interview famous politicians, celebrities and have chances to discover hidden truths and reveal them to the world. They also looked cool on cameras. This was a dream come true. At the thought of these exciting tasks, my heart beat with anticipation. I couldn’t even sleep the night before my first day.
When I first entered the office where I would be going to the following three weeks, I was pretty shocked. It was not like anything I imagined. It was a crooked, messy office, the size of a box, with piles and piles of documents stacked in the corridors. I could barely squeeze through them! I still felt fine until I knew my assignment. I was not going to interview any celebrities or even be an on-screen reporter, I was going to slums to interview scavengers and wrote an article afterwards. My heart dropped like an elevator but I still kept smiling, hiding my disappointment.
The next day, my nightmare began. I followed my mentor, Justine, to the slums in Shum Shui Po. When I got there, I nearly cried. The scene was both disgusting ad horrifying. The alleys were dark and damp with cockroaches scampering around and flies buzzing in the air. Scavengers and beggars slept on the hard ground in the dirt, wearing torn rags. As we walked closer, a stench passed through my nostrils, making me feel sick. I wanted to run away but I had no choice. Justine had already started the recorder and began interviewing one of the men lying down. Feeling a pang of regret, I jotted down notes from the interview, thinking the faster I finished my work, the faster I could leave.
This nightmare continued day after day and my resentment towards my job grew day by day. After the first week, Justin came up to me for a talk. He was dissatisfied with my performance during the first week. He told me that I needed to put more efforts into the summer job despite my disappointment in the job assignment. Feeling ashamed o myself, I decided to work harder to be an off-screen reporter intern in the following weeks.
Once I really paid effort in my interviews, I began to enjoy them. Even though the slums were still sloppy and unhygienic, I could not care less. I found out that the stories of the beggars and ethic minorities were devastating. They told me how people looked down on them and treated them like dirt. When they strolled down streets, nobody would ever look at them in the eye. Instead, they pinch their noses in disgust and walked away hurriedly, which was heart-breaking to them. A child from Pakistan I interviewed also revealed how he faced discrimination from his classmates. No one was willing to play with him at school and they teased him for his race and poverty. As days passed, more sorrowful stories and experiences were heard. Every time I interviewed them, I sympathized with them clearly and wished to help them. Therefore, I wrote an article, displaying experience with the forgotten and their sad tales. This article was my last piece of assignment as a reporter and my three-week job ended with compliments to it.
To me, however, the compliments did not matter. The experience I have gained and lessons I have learnt are much more valuable. Through these three weeks, my interview skills and article-writing skills improved a lot. Other than that, I understood a lot more about the group of people neglected by us and how they felt. I used to despise the beggars and scavengers and avoid contacting them. Now I’ve learnt that we should treat everyone equally and should not look down on the poor or the homeless since it would hurt their feelings. We should also be thankful for what we have, knowing that there are many who are less fortunate than we are. Teenagers tend to emphasize on what they do not own, not the other way round. I am glad that this summer scheme has changed my thoughts and feelings towards the neglected.
At first, I truly regretted choosing to be a reporter as I only wanted to be an on-screen reporter, not an off-screen one, but now, I would gladly continue to write articles and conduct interviews as it was both challenging and meaningful. I highly recommend students to participate in this “Summer Work Experience” scheme next year to gain an experience that you will never forget.