Outsider's Point of View: The One In Which I Say Goodbye
By Renata Gomes
When I began writing this column around six or seven weeks ago, I couldn’t get to grips with the name “Outsider’s Point of View.” I told myself a column name either to be one of two things: ironic and funny or self-explanatory. Since I’m not as good at being ironic in a foreign language as I am in Portuguese, I might as well just settle with the self-explanatory one.
When my last published words come out, it will be only eight days more until I go home to Brazil, but I’m getting a bit ahead of myself here. Let me tell a story.
As I said in “The One About Halloween,” I come from a country that people think is all about samba, soccer and naked women lying on beaches. Actually, my home is much bigger than that.
My country is about knowing when to laugh and knowing when to cry. It’s about getting up early in the morning and going to work to bring food to your family at home. My country is about loving yourself and the ones around you and expressing that through music, literature, poetry, sand sculptures on Rio de Janeiro’s beaches and handmade bracelets. My country is about learning how to overcome your difficulties and making something beautiful out of it.
My country is also about fighting for your rights. It’s about changing your community for the better. My country is about children in favelas who don’t have anything to do, so they decide to move their bodies and dance. It’s about the foreigners that ran from the war and found a place to call home.
On July 30, I got on a plane to Indianapolis and thought I was going toward the greatest experience of my life and I would spend four years studying what I loved in a whole new country. Two weeks later I knew already that life doesn’t always make all of your dreams come true. It was as quick and as simple as that. However, I’m from Brazil, and where I come from, we don’t give up that easily.
I knew that I wouldn’t be able to complete my undergraduate degree in the United States, but I also knew that I wanted to make the most of my time here. I was still searching for a way to do that when I stumbled across the Indiana Daily Student website. I saw that I could send an application to work there, so I gathered all of my past work — a small amount of weird previous writings and page designs — and hoped to get a callback. When I met Miss Ruth, the newsroom’s adviser, she told me anyone who wanted to apply to work for the IDS would be welcomed with open arms. I felt for the first time since I moved that I was in the right place.
After the meeting, she took me and two other students to tour the newsroom. That was when I feel in love. All of these reporters were talking to each other and typing at computers with little desk names on them. It all felt like one great pulsing heart, working together in the same rhythm and pace. I wanted so badly to be a part of that.
That was also when I met Mia, the Weekend editor. At that time I didn’t know who she was or how much of a mentor she would become to me, but I do remember she was working on the first Weekend issue of the semester. She was designing little ice cream cones themed after summer movies. I said, “That looks great! I get the message there,” and she smiled.
A couple weeks later, I met Anna, the creative director. Anna trained me to be a page designer one afternoon. I said I had some previous experience with InDesign, and she said something close to, “So I guess you’ll be OK with what we have here.” I wasn’t OK at first. Some days were harder than the others, but with time I began feeling joy and pleasure doing my work every single day.
Some people asked me, “Why are you always here? You know, there’s life outside of the newsroom,” and I knew that. I only answered that I could use the money, but in fact, it was never about the money. I knew from day one that I would have limited time in the newsroom, so I wanted to absorb any sort of knowledge and extra skills that I could, even if it was only through osmosis.
On my real first day of work, I met Harley and Lanie, two design chiefs. They became mentors and friends. Harley walked me through the steps when I did my first front — for those who are not journalism geeks like me, that’s the cover page inside of the newspaper. Lanie always high-fived me when I was able to fit everything in the page. Chloe, the other design chief, understood what being a foreigner felt like. I really appreciate her for that.
I found in the IDS not only a place to learn new skills and redevelop old ones but a second home.
I also got the opportunity to express myself, and it was through this column.
Inside my mind, it was quite weird to be alone in another country. I had prepared myself previously for the turbulence of change, but it was still a surprise. I learned before coming here that if I were to swallow my feelings, I would have a stomach ache, and that is a true story. So when Mia gave me the opportunity to write a column about my experiences here and my point of view as an outsider — thus, “Outsider’s Point of View” — I saw it as a way of leaving my mark on what I am proud and honored to say was the first newspaper I ever worked for.
I guess my point with all of this is that life is unpredictable. You are never really sure if your plans are going to happen or not, but you might as well just make the most of it and take a chance. That is what I did. Beyond every moment of doubt, uncertainty and fear of the unknown, I took a chance by going to that first advising session and meeting Miss Ruth. I am really glad that I did that.
I’d like to say thank you to everyone in the newsroom, every single member of the staff, that made me feel welcomed and helped to make my brief time at IU the best it could have possibly been.
It has been a pleasure.
Thank you, and goodbye.