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The Prospector

Assayer of Student Opinion.

The Prospector

Assayer of Student Opinion.

The Prospector

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Keep your cool, people are nice

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I gathered the courage to ask a professional reporter to take a picture of me at the White House press room podium. I didn’t want to seem like the eager, over-excited new comer, but I had no choice. I was at the White House.

“Look professional,” I told myself as I walked into the White House through what I thought was the main entrance.

It was my first time walking into the most popular house in the U.S. Of course, I would be excited and nervous. I constantly restrained myself from smiling. It was overwhelming walking into the building. I didn’t want those feelings to show, though. Not in front of all the professional reporters covering speeches by the president and the first lady.

There was one problem, though. I didn’t know where I was going, so I had no choice other than to ask around and introduce myself by saying that I was new. As soon as I walked into the press briefing room I turned to the first person I saw and asked where to go. Turns out I picked the wrong person. He was new, too.

I walked farther into the building and ran into a very nice lady. I tried to ask her where I was supposed to go, but all I got was a perplexed look. My question wasn’t clear because I was speaking gibberish and stumbling on my words. She got the sense I was new – it might have been my inability to speak that gave it away – and she introduced herself as a Christi Parsons, from the L.A. Times. Coincidentally, the Times Washington bureau and the Scripps Washington bureau share office space, but I hadn’t met her yet.

Once I introduced myself, she smiled and said, “Follow me. We’ll make sure you are where you’re supposed to be.”

After setting up my equipment for the first lady’s remarks about education, I went back to the briefing room and she was nice enough to come back and ask me how everything was going. I felt so hopeful at that moment. It changed the way I perceive most professional journalists.

Another situation in which I found myself lost and people helped me was using the bus on my way to cover an event at the State Department. I had no idea where the bus would take me – you can’t trust your iPhone to be 100 percent accurate.

Before I got on the bus, I asked the driver what the stop for the State Department was, and three other people jumped in to answer my question. The driver laughed and said, “Looks like they go you covered.” One of the men who answered was a State Department employee. He guided me all the way from the bus to the building entrance. He was even able to get me into the building. I felt like a VIP for a brief second. That lasted until a guard told me I had to go back to the security check station.

So far, I have encountered nice people everywhere I go in D.C. I hope it continues to be that way. It makes it easier when I get lost.

Alejandro Alba is a senior multimedia journalism major at UTEP. He is currently participating in the Scripps Howard Foundation’s Semester in Washington program. He was previously editor-in-chief, entertainment editor and multimedia editor at The Prospector.

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Keep your cool, people are nice