Identity and Storytelling Intersect on the East Side of LA
Alex Medina ’22, a creative writing and Hispanic studies major, shares his story of combining full-time remote studies with work at a bilingual newspaper in his hometown of Los Angeles.
Coming home from college mid-semester was unexpected for most of us. I’d recently spent most of my free time at Hamilton trying to foster community by using storytelling to give others an opportunity to share their voice. Losing this role suddenly was something I missed as soon as I found myself across the country. Soon enough, however, I found myself doing the same work, but for my own neighbors.
News can change overnight during stressful times like these, which is why it’s so important to stay informed on what’s going on in your local community. When the opportunity for me to keep my hometown up-to-date with resources and draw attention to underreported narratives, I became a reporter overnight.
Last summer, thanks to my involvement in the Joan Hinde Stewart Career Development program at Hamilton, I reconnected with the bilingual Boyle Heights Beat, a nonprofit newspaper I wrote for throughout my time in high school. Because of this networking, I was quickly welcomed back to the paper when I let the editors know I was in town.
Reporting the news remotely while still engaged in a full course load of online classes is mentally and physically demanding but well worth it for the impact it can have. I recently wrote an article in English and Spanish about time-sensitive resources available in my city and was met with kind words from people thanking me for helping connect them to this support.
While I don’t have set hours, I’ve designated my early mornings to searching for any breaking news on which to write. My afternoons are dedicated to reaching out to those who have been affected by the pandemic to share their stories.
Last week I contacted local nonprofits to see how they’ve been adjusting their work and plans to support the community while adhering to social distancing. Many have shifted planned events, weekly meetings, and resources, so it was important to quickly share this through accessible means for local residents.
I’m currently in the process of interviewing local teachers and students to share how they’ve adjusted to online classes and whether or not they feel supported by the school district. I also have a few phone interviews planned with individuals who are at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 but are still working without hazard pay.
I can’t overstate the importance of journalism in the world. Being able to use my fields of study to contribute to this practice has allowed me to keep the place I call home connected and informed. Life is full of the unexpected, but the ability to adapt and find ways to contribute is something I can thank Hamilton for.