We Need Your Contribution To Keep The Heart Of The School Beating

By Maria Inés Taracena

School of Authentic Journalism, Generation 2016 

I came across the School of Authentic Journalism at a strange time in my life. The beginning of 2016 was interesting – a combination of frustration and melancholy coming from feeling lost in my work life and therefore, in my personal life. By then I had been working as a journalist for almost four years. By 2016, I felt defeated. The newspaper where I was had become a place full of hypocrisy – it was a media company that criticized Donald Trump but at the same time discriminated against their only two female writers, myself included, an immigrant from Guatemala.

At the same time, that’s the place I came to know of the existence of the school, since someone working at the paper had attended a few years ago. It was she who put me in contact with Greg “Gringoyo” Berger, about a year ago, when the school was starting a fundraising campaign. They succeeded, and a few weeks later I sent my application. From the application process I realized this experience was going to be utterly therapeutic. I had to get to know myself better, and not be afraid to open up. The great Al Giordano requested an interview with me, which turned out to be a conversation via Skype where he let me know I had been accepted to the school. I cried with joy, and I was also afraid.

The school marked a turning point for me in 2016 and, truth be told, in my adult life. Upon arrival, I was panicked with the idea of sharing the same space with dozens of people I had never met. I’ve always been a person who puts up many walls. Well, those damn walls went to hell the minute we had our first session – in which we formed a huge circle in a beautiful classroom – a stone structure in the open – and we said our names and the reasons we were there. We were from so many different places – I, a Guatemalan living in the Tucson, Arizona desert; Bolivia, Ecuador. México, South Africa.

The last day came too fast. The experience was just a taste of an almost perfect world, with people with whom, in a very short time, I felt closer than with many members of my family and old friends. It was an environment where I didn’t feel crazy or lost. The brains and hearts I got to know at the school are exceptional. Being surrounded by such talented people filled me with humility and warmth – from journalists to extraordinary activists that give their lives to improve their world.

They were four days of complete empathy in a world that is invaded by apathy. It was almost a year ago that we all went our separate ways, but I think of the experience constantly. I think of all of them constantly. I still have that weird feeling in my chest, I think it’s called love, when I talk about the school – I really long to relive those days. I am extremely pleased to know that the school is a project that, despite hard times, has survived. The school helps produce thinking beings, willing to change the narrative of our world, and we need your contribution to keep that heart beating.

Join the Kickstarter campaign here or visit authenticjournalism.org to learn more about the school.

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