Monday, January 7, 2013
by Mary Triny Mena “Every day I make mistakes, but every day I learn” - this is a statement I have told myself over and over for many years. I recognize that as humans we are prone to make mistakes, but the most important thing is to learn something from them. Nowadays, that premise lives with me every day in Canada, where thanks to CJFE and Scotiabank I was able to come to Massey College as student and became a Journalism Fellow. So far it’s been two months, 61 days, 1464 hours full of experiences and counting. For some people that might seem to be a very short time, but for me it was enough to make a remarkable change in my daily routine; it was a 360-degree turn. Let's start with geography. The cities of Caracas (Venezuela) and Toronto (Canada) are separated by 3880.79 kilometers. But despite the distance, I have found similarities. Both cities are populated with more than five million people, traffic and hectic lifestyles characteristic of any big city, where it seems that time goes by faster than elsewhere. However, despite these similarities, there have been two radical changes in my surroundings: the language and the weather. The language barrier has not been a great problem for me. Fortunately, I have found that if I try my best to explain myself, in return everyone tries to understand what I mean. Regarding Canadian weather, I have learned that you must always be prepared and informed. But one of the things that has changed the most is my daily routine. It amazes me to see how many of Massey College students ask me a lot of questions about my country, so I have changed roles from being the interviewer to the one being interviewed. I have already had the opportunity to travel within and outside the country. My first trip was to Newfoundland, St. Johns specifically, a province where tradition prevails. In St Johns, families have their own routines and a distinctive way of speaking, aspects that have been inherited from its history and geographical proximity to Europe. Fishing not only changed Newfoundland, but also changed its inhabitants. Outside Canada, I visited Germany, where history is written in every street and lives in every one of its inhabitants. Twenty-three years ago the fall of the Berlin Wall was one of the most important news in contemporary world history. As a journalist, to see the remains of the Berlin Wall was a dream come true. As for the practice of journalism, one of the things that caught my attention was a special institution. Germany has had the Bundespressekonferenz (BPK; Federal Press Conference) since 1949. This organization is entirely made up of journalists. Their goal is to organize press conferences with the German authorities. Public servants come and respond voluntarily to questions from the journalists without limitations on topics of interest. Experiences like these have had a profound impact on me. Even small things like visiting Toronto City Hall, sitting through a discussion and seeing the freedom with which news teams move in and do their work was a completely different experience for me. Perhaps to Canadian journalists it is a common thing, but those things are a bit shocking to me after being submerged in many restrictions when seeking news in my country. I think the word that best represents this stage in my life is change. And every change inevitably is accompanied by a lesson. In only a few hours the new academic term will begin, and I find myself facing a new challenge: to be a full-time student again. While at Massey College, I have chosen to study Geopolitics and attend courses in law school. This is a new opportunity to learn, one that I don’t just appreciate, but will make the most of. I will try to fulfill my premise: Every day I make mistakes, but every day I learn. Mary Triny Mena is a Venezuelan journalist and the 2012/2013 Scotiabank/CJFE Journalism Fellow at Massey College.