Vanessa Poulson: Internship provided unique experiences, opportunities

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By Vanessa Poulson

2018 has been a year of change for me. I moved all the way across the country, from Michigan to Alabama, and began working here at The Opelika Observer.
As a student at Penn State University and hailing from Florida originally, I had never really lived in the deep south before. Though Florida is “technically” in the southern part of the United States, the experiences I have had in Florida and Alabama have been drastically different.
While working here at The Opelika Observer, I have had the pleasure of meeting a variety of different people that come from all different kinds of backgrounds and livelihoods. This has helped to open up a brand new world of perspective for me.
I have spent most of my life living in Orlando, which is a much larger city than Opelika. I have never really lived in a small town before, and through this internship, I have really gotten to see what life is like for people on the opposite end of an urbanized culture.
I have learned about things that I would have never come across in a big city, like farming, agriculture, local fairs, true southern food and just how real southern hospitality is, especially here in Auburn and Opelika.
You never really know just how small and large the world can feel when you live in a place so far removed from a lot of the rest of the world. It can be one of the best moments of peace that you will ever have in your life.
Something I think I have learned, and an important lesson that each of us can take and apply in our daily lives is that there will be always more than one way to look at things. Journalism as an industry is about exploring all the intimate sides of a story and understanding the facts, feelings, and motivations of the subject in all their different lights.
As people outside of the journalistic world, we can do the same thing with our own belief systems. There are rights and wrongs, goods and bads, and powerful things inside each and every one of us and in others can teach us new things. We shouldn’t close ourselves off to that.
As I continue onwards with my writing journey, I know that the experiences I had in Opelika will be some that stand out for their unique features from the rest of my life so far. I encourage everyone to remember to look beyond their own perspectives, embrace the power of differences between people, and remember that the way you have lived your life and your own system of beliefs is not the only one that exists.
I believe it can be summed up best by Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird:
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb in his skin and walk around in it.”

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