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Holly Ivansek Story Behind The Story

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This is Holly Ivansek's "Story Behind the Story" in which she tells her story about working on the War: Through Their Eyes, Vol. 3, Warriors and Students multimedia project.

February 11, 2013 was like any other ordinary day until at 3 p.m. when the uneasy feeling of having an interview thrown at you sunk in. This unprepared moment had me rushing for questions in a sweat. Questions to ask veteran Adam Ruetten for the project War Though Their Eyes: Volume 3.

As a junior at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh majoring in Journalism. I got to take part in this war project for one of my classes. When I first heard about this project I thought it was going to be hard and the workload along with my other classes was going to be unbearable. Not knowing really anything about war I was excited to work on this project. Getting me to watch movies is like pulling teeth. Therefore I didn’t even have an good understanding or image about war.

The original veteran I was assigned to work with never replied to my email. I was assigned to a new veteran one day when I got class. I actually met him outside the classroom before my teacher showed up for class and introduced me to him. She told me that I would be having an interview with him that day. I was not prepared which put me in a sweat. I came up with some quick question to get the interview going. Our first interview ended up being very short with a lot of giggling and playing around with the microphone. Doing a project like this for the first time and only being a student, you wonder a lot about things. I always wondered are my questions going to be too personal. Who am I to ask these types of questions and will he open up to someone he only met a few times? War is a serious topic to talk about. I felt nervous about what questions to ask. Especially questions that deal with death. Did you kill someone or see anyone get killed? This was a hard topic to interview someone about because of these questions that go through your mind. Every person is affected differently and I tried to keep that in mind when asking questions.

The veteran I worked with throughout this project was Adam Ruetten. He is a junior at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh majoring in education. He was in Iraq for 15 months from February 2007-May 2008. His job in Iraq was a lead vehicle gunner. I heard many stories from Adam and was able to write a great story about him.

A struggle with this project was trying to meet at times that work for both of us. A personal struggle for me with this project was the amount of times I had to email or text Adam. The more I had to contact him for question, the more I felt like I was bugging him. Writing the journals was also a struggle for me. Many times I can come up with what I want to say but I sit there and stare at the blank computer screen trying to get the words out.

Coming into this project I really didn’t have any experience with working with multimedia or had really any interview experience. In my writing for the media class I interview a few people for our papers but it never felt as extreme as this project did.

I feel like I walked away with a lot from this project on as a journalist and on a personal level. Learning new multimedia programs will help me out in the future at school and when I get a job. I learned how to become more aggressive on getting the story. Even though I felt like I was always bugging him I was proud of myself for just keeping at him to get the story. This project made me look at writing in a different way. I really enjoyed feature writing. Being able to hear someone else’s story for their point of view was amazing. Especially when it comes to a topic like war. You can read about war stories in books, magazines or online. But I feel that actually sitting across from you veteran and hearing the story in person you get to see and feel the emotions. For example when Adam was telling me a story about rockets going over right over their heads I could see his emotions in the story. He would get very excited explaining it and would be laughing about how they reacted. Even when he read that script for my podcast I could tell he wanted to laugh and was having a hard time reading that part. After hearing Adam’s story it made me realize that you don't really understand what these soldiers go through until you hear the story from their point of view. Adam told me that when he called home rockets would go off in the distance. His family and friends would ask him what that noise was. He would tell them don’t worry about that, it happens all the time. This quote really made me stop and think about one of things his family went through when he was in Iraq - Them wondering if he was going to make it home safe.       

Overall I am very happy I took this class. I was going to drop it because of the time it was offered and the way my work schedule was. It was a challenging class but I am glad I was able to complete it. This class had a very large workload and you do wonder how you’re going to get it all done but it can be managed. Things like transcribing over 10,000 words, recording your podcast five to seven times and writing a few different drafts for your final story. You really can work hard and achieve what you need to when you put your mind to it.

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