DTU JOURNAL ENTRY 1: THE DETROIT IMMERSION TRIP CHANGED MY MINDSET
By Ayron M. Lewallen (NNPA/DTU Journalism Fellow)
Tired. Sick. Irritated. Those three words described my emotions, before I got to Detroit for the immersion event for the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s “Discover The Unexpected” Journalism Program. Exhaustion overshadowed my excitement for visiting the city where Motown Records was founded and the hometown of one of my favorite rappers, Big Sean. Nothing seemed to be coming together and I thought my day couldn’t get any worse.
As I struggled through the airport with two 50-pound suitcases, a heavy duffle bag full of sneakers and an overstuffed backpack, somehow, I took a few wrong turns and got lost, trying to find the pickup point for my Uber ride to the hotel. I had a lot on my mind. I had a flight to Raleigh, N.C., after the immersion trip and I still had to figure out how I was going to pay my rent and get the keys to the apartment where I would live, while I worked at The Carolinian.
Once I got to Ladder 12, where the welcome reception for the immersion trip was held, my fatigue and irritation vanished. Even though, I was still sick, my frown quickly became a smile as I began interacting with the other fellows and meeting executives from Chevrolet and coordinators from the DTU program, who I had communicated for two months, by phone and email; it was nice to finally match names to faces.
Learning about the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox was intriguing and built the anticipation of driving the car throughout the summer. The vehicle is groundbreaking and is equipped with an array of safety features and technological advances.
The highlight of the trip was exploring the city of Detroit during the scavenger hunt. I even discovered another great Motown landmark, the First Congressional Church, one of the last stops along the Underground Railroad. I was honored to stand outside of one of the cornerstones of the anti-slavery movement, one that paved the way to freedom “for everybody, everywhere.”
During the scavenger hunt, we also conducted interviews with Black business owners and were interviewed about our experiences by videographers. Given my illness, my voice was hoarse and speaking was challenging. Throughout the day, I realized the importance of being professional and not allowing an illness to hinder the content I will eventually produce. The stories should not suffer because of my ailments.
Prior to meeting Adria Jervay, the publisher of The Carolinian, I was apprehensive about working in Raleigh, N.C. However, she changed my mindset about the experience when she shared information about Raleigh’s rich history. I learned that there will be plenty of opportunities to tell captivating stories.
I am eager to begin uncovering untold stories within N.C. and “finding new roads” while doing it. During the immersion trip, I realized that this opportunity is not about being assigned to the ideal city or my reservations about the program. This is a chance to “Discover The Unexpected” by being uncomfortable, overcoming it, and producing outstanding content for The Carolinian’s readers.
Excited. Anxious. Ready. These three words now describe my feelings after my experience in Detroit with Chevrolet and the NNPA.
Ayron Lewallen is a 2017 NNPA “Discover The Unexpected” Journalism Fellow and a student at Morehouse College. This summer, Ayron is writing for The Carolinian, a member newspaper of the NNPA. Follow Ayron on Twitter @alewallen95.
Fellow, The Carolinian
Ayron Lewallen is a junior at Morehouse College with a solid background in journalism and leadership. Lewallen has been a newsroom intern, volunteers in the community and is currently the news and copy editor of the Maroon Tiger campus newspaper. He was selected to be a travel reporter for the Morehouse College Journalism & Sports Program which took him to places such as Haiti, Cuba and the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Now, he’s ready for a road trip of a lifetime with Discover the Unexpected.