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Speaking Out: YSN enriched my bond with God

By  Sarah Wentzell, Youth Speak News
  • September 2, 2020

A few days ago, I got back from my last hiking trip of the summer. As I sat on a pebbled Lake Superior beach at night and watched a crescent moon paint the water with a mystical glow, everything seemed peaceful and tranquil.

Yet while summer appeared to have full reign, the inevitability of autumn and a new school year was fast approaching. For me, the hiking trip was a farewell to summer and preparation for the hectic business of Grade 12.

Looking back at my last year during those dwindling days of August, I realized how blessed I am to have had the opportunity to write for Youth Speak News.

When I first started with YSN a year ago, I had no experience with journalism. Yet as I learned about the writing and interviewing process, I found that it was not only my writing skills that were affected but my faith life as well.

YSN allowed me to speak out about my Catholic faith and write about issues that matter deeply to me. Through interviews, I talked to people I otherwise might not have, including people who have inspired me with their stories, like members of the pro-life movement I interviewed a few months ago. Hearing the commitment, conviction and passion of all the devout people I have interviewed has been encouraging for my own bond with God.

In addition to helping my faith, YSN has also given me experience writing in a professional setting. I hope to become an author in the future, but before YSN, I did not have practical experience working with deadlines, editors or the publishing process. Writing for The Catholic Register has afforded me valuable experience in this area. Delving into journalism has taught me a whole new way of writing and has helped prepare me for future writing endeavours.  

To the new YSN writers, I would give the following advice: Do not be afraid to ask questions, be attentive and learn from other writers. Interviewing people you have never met can be a bit daunting at times, but trying to explore as many different angles as possible will enable you to craft a better story. Imagine that you are the reader and allow your curiosity to run free. You never know which question could spark new insight.

As well as asking questions, I learned that journalists must be very observant. Keep an eye out for details and always be on the lookout for potential story leads. An open mind and a tuned ear may be all it takes to find a new story idea. 

Finally, it is beneficial to learn from examples of other writers. Read various newspaper articles and ask yourself questions. Try to pinpoint what it is about that article that sparks your interest and makes the story come alive. Bringing these observations into your writing will give it vibrancy and raise it to a whole new level. 

As I enter my last year of high school and prepare for university, I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to learn so much through YSN. In my writing, as well as my faith life, YSN has given me inspiration and experience. YSN has enabled me to become actively involved in my faith and has given me the tools to express this faith.

(Wentzell, 17, is a Grade 12 student in Seton Home Study School in Thunder Bay, Ont.)

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