This week I’m attending the Washington Journalism and Media Conference held at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia (a suburb of Washington D.C.). I am so excited to be here and in the first day I’ve already made so many new friends, learned a lot, and crawled out of my comfort zone a little bit. I will be posting recaps the morning after each day, so today’s post is about Sunday’s happenings. Enjoy!
Side note: I made the mistake of not bringing my camera to dinner Sunday night, that’s why there are no pictures today, but I promise I’ve learned my lesson to bring my camera everywhere possible from now on!
My flight to D.C. departed from the Charlotte Douglas International Airport at 11:45 a.m. While I was waiting at the gate before boarding the flight, I met another girl, Chloe from Arkansas, who is also attending the conference! We talked a bit about the conference and then separated due to our nonadjacent seats. When we arrived at the Dulles International Airport, we went to baggage claim together before meeting up with an intern and a few other correspondents at a baggage claim station that was assigned in an email beforehand. We then boarded a charter bus and rode to George Mason University. On the bus ride it was so fun to talk to other correspondents from all over the country and see how different yet similar we are!
When we arrived at the GMU campus around 2:00 p.m, we were directed to “the Hub,” where we checked in and received our room keys, press passes, some instructions for logging into the wifi, and a schedule for the evening. After checking in, I headed to my suite where I met my suite mates for the first time. I was honestly so scared I was going to have issues with my suite mates, but they, Edna and Izzy, are really sweet and funny. I’m so excited to get to know them better! After settling into my room, I went with Edna and Izzy to a Panera on campus to grab a quick bite to eat. On the way to Panera I ran into a friend, Sophia, that I had made through Instagram before the conference. It was so neat to meet her and actually talk to her in person! After hanging out at Panera for half an hour or so, we returned to our rooms to get ready to meet for dinner at 5:15 p.m.
Before dinner, we met with our color groups in the courtyard between the two dorm buildings. Once I found my group, the maroon group, I met my friend Taylor (who I also knew from previous interactions on social media) for the first time. Our group went to our assigned area for our first meeting. In this little meeting, we played some name games, came up with a team name and chant for the maroon group (Maroon Monsoon!), and learned a little about our Faculty Advisor (FA) Hillary and Junior Faculty Advisor (JFA) Hunter. After this meeting, we were led to dinner at the Dewberry Hall.
Dinner was fun! We sat at tables of about seven people within our color group and we slowly got to know each other better. Dinner itself was also really good; pasta, chicken, potatoes, salad, rolls, garlic bread, and cupcakes iced in GMU colors. As we finished eating, we heard our first speaker, Sonya Gavankar, who has tons of journalism experience and currently works as an on-screen presence and voice-over for video installations in the Newseum (which we will be visiting on Monday!). She highlighted the main points of becoming a successful journalist by utilizing your strengths (or “superpowers”), constantly evolving, and pushing yourself. She was really relatable and absolutely hilarious. Once Gavankar finished her presentation, she did a Q&A in which we, the correspondents, could go to the stage and ask any questions we had for her in a journalistic fashion. After the Q&A, we were introduced to all of the conference staff before being dismissed to go to another color group meeting.
In this meeting, we talked about the speaker and what we learned from her presentation, played more name games, went over conference rules, talked about why we came to the conference, and set some goals for ourselves to accomplish individually during our time at WJMC. When the meeting finished around 10:30 p.m., we returned to our dorms and got ready for bed.
Thanks for reading! Be sure to come back tomorrow morning for my WJMC day two recap and follow me on Instagram @apocketfuloffaith here so you can see pictures from my day as it unfolds via posts and my story (I promise to actually bring my camera everywhere for the rest of the week)! I’m so excited to see what this week holds and I can’t wait to share it with you all.