How journalism has changed me this year


Photo by Jasmine Rihal

I never would have expected my love for English to blossom during my junior year of high school.

Daeun Chung, Web Editor

Landing at San Francisco International Airport in the summer of 2021 after a long flight from Incheon, South Korea, I was greeted by an unfamiliar country with unfamiliar customs. People spoke a language that I barely understood, and the sight of English words, books and newspapers gave me a headache. Despite these challenges, I never would have expected my love for English to blossom during my junior year of high school.

Back in South Korea, I used to take walks around campus with friends during lunch. However, my friends who used to  fill my lunch time with laughter and fun were now thousands of miles away. By contrast, lunch in the U.S. was the most uncomfortable time of the day, as I had a hard time connecting with other students’ interests and passions. All I could do was nod politely in agreement, pretending that I understood their conversations while fearing that someone would eventually confront me for my awkwardness. Sometimes, I wished that I was invisible so that I would no longer be ashamed of my struggle to communicate fluently in English.

Because I felt so disconnected from the community during my sophomore year, I rarely participated in school events and felt increasingly alienated from the majority of students. However, after receiving my first copy of the Epic, I gained a new lens into Lynbrook students’ diverse range of interests and issues. With first-hand information about students’ lives behind the scenes, I became friends with my classmates and gradually began to engage with various components of our school. Ultimately, I realized that I wanted to be involved in the Epic so I could help other incoming or transferring students the same way it guided  my tough transition to California. 

Although being accepted into the Epic was a significant milestone, I found another major roadblock before me: my lack of confidence in English. This prevented me from actively participating in discussion with other staff members and made me think that I was taking the spot of other more qualified applicants. For the first few months, I doubted my ability to provide anything meaningful input to the class. 

To combat this, I began practicing photography, one of the few things in journalism that didn’t require English writing or speaking. I went to as many sports games and school events as possible to practice taking action shots and portrait photos. My photography skills eventually improved enough that the volleyball team wanted to use my photos for their graphics. This accomplishment gave me confidence that I now have at least something I could contribute to our publication. 

Despite my initial struggles with writing and interviewing, meeting new people has always been my favorite part of being on staff. I feel like opportunities to gain insight into others’ personal stories is a great privilege that I can only access as a journalist. Additionally, our production days, where we finalize page designs and print versions of our stories, allowed me to learn how valuable teamwork is. Working closely with 39 other staff, with diverse cultures, backgrounds and stories, in order to accomplish a common goal together became an activity I partook in with pride. 

Reminiscing on how I was a year ago, I realize my tremendous growth not only as a journalist but also as an individual. So, for those who read this column, if you see an opportunity to take a journalism class, seize it with both hands and hold tightly, just like I did, and see where it takes you — it will be a life-changing experience.