Hannah Theodore - Finding certainty in uncertain times: a reflection of the past year

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It’s funny how a year that has felt so stagnant in so many ways has also been the one in which I’ve grown the most. About two years ago, I left my full-time job in the service industry to pursue journalism at Fanshawe. Now, I’m staring down the end of a two-year rollercoaster complete with a pandemic to boot.

What has always kept me afloat through my studies has been my time here, with Interrobang. I knew, being a mature student, that I was going to have to pay my way through school, even with help from OSAP and financial aid. For me, a part-time job was just something I had to do. But, being a mature student, I also had this gnawing feeling that I couldn’t waste a single second of time at Fanshawe doing something that wasn’t helping me advance my career. That might seem like a lot of pressure to put on one person, and it probably was. But it led me to my work study with the Interrobang, and the chance to work with our amazing editor, Angela McInnes.

Landing the job was the first moment I truly felt like I was on the right track. I wanted nothing more than to contribute to this publication and learn as much as I could from my peers and superiors. The work I got to do here at the Interrobang helped me excel in my program, giving me practice with interviewing and attending newsworthy events.

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I remember I had just taken over doing our weekly video news roundups when everything changed. On one of my last days at Fanshawe in the 2020 school year, I was on campus to shoot a news roundup, including a quick note at the end that we would be continuing to provide updates on the COVID-19 situation. It would be the last video I filmed for that year. I said goodbye to our office and our videographer, not knowing it would be the last time I would see them for six months.

The rest of that school year was like crawling to the finish line. Still, I knew coming back in the fall that I would return to the Interrobang. I knew now, more than ever that our publication would stand as a physical, tangible memory of this time. Despite the monotony of writing stories that always felt like they had an asterisk (COVID), I knew that if anything, these stories were more unique than anything that I would ever write again.

See one day, a time will come when every interview doesn’t end with a question about how COVID has affected the story. A time will come when our days aren’t shrouded in anxiety, painting everything we do with an air of uncertainty and fear.

Lately I’ve been coming to terms with the idea that we’ll forget about COVID-19 eventually. Maybe for a while, our policies and practices will reflect this era, but some day, probably within my lifetime, the mistakes we made and things we did now will disappear. We’ll make the same mistakes again as our fragile human memories lose sight of how we got through COVID-19.

But this paper you’re holding won’t disappear. These physical reminders of not just what we did, but what we didn’t do will last forever. Even if you throw this newspaper in the recycling when you’re finished with it, it will go on to become something new, and the lessons you learned from the stories within will stay with you, at least for a little while.

I’m struck by the sheer cyclicality of everything, as I look towards the finish line of college and my time with the Interrobang. I’ve been here before, when I graduated from Western University almost four years ago. Back then, I felt lost and unsure, without a sense of direction or purpose. But now, even coming into a world that is less certain than ever, I feel sure of my purpose; to tell stories, to listen and engage, to be present and pass on what I can to the next graduate feeling just as lost as I did four years ago. I’m so grateful to everyone who has taken the time to read the stories we’ve written over the past year. I hope they last forever.