Holly Ivansek Journal
It is two weeks after our assignment War Through Their Eyes: Volume 3 was assigned. After writing my veteran an email about a week and a half ago, I still haven’t heard back from him. When I arrived to class today the door wasn’t opened so I was standing in the hall waiting for our teacher Grace Lim to arrive and open the door. A guy came down the hall and asked if I was there for the event. I told him, “I didn’t know about any event and that I was there for class at 3 p.m., and he said he was there for some war thing. I told him, “yeah.” Our class is doing a war project and that he was in the right spot. No more than a few seconds later Grace came down the hall and introduced me to Adam, the guy I had just met, and said. “This is your new vet.” You guys will be doing an interview today during class. That was a shock to me. I didn’t have questions prepared because I had no idea I would be interviewing anyone that day. I felt somewhat nervous because I had to come up with some quick questions. I feel this was a good thing that it happened to me this way because sometimes in journalism things do just get sprung up on you. You have to know how to handle these type of situations. The interview didn’t go very long because when I asked him the questions, he wouldn’t really open up too much. I got some basic background information on. He grew up in Markesan, Wi. Before doing this interview I never even heard of this city in Wisconsin. It’s a pretty small city with a population of 1,479 in 2011. Adam enlisted in the military in March 2005 at age 17 and was deployed to Iraq in February 2007. He was there until May 2008. His job in Iraq was a lead vehicle gunner for the commander security squad which consisted of driving around the city and keeping the commander safe while he checked on police stations throughout the city of Kirkuk. Kirkuk has a population of about 850,000. Has a little more population than a city like Milwaukee, which has a population of about 600,000.
Today I did a follow up interview with Adam. I got to learn a lot more about his experience at war. He showed me pictures and videos from when he was in Iraq. It really helped to see pictures because then when he talks to me about his experiences I can visualize some of the stories in my head. In the pictures Adam was either 19 or 20 years old. He had a younger looking face in the pictures. It put an image in my head of that 19/20 year old guy rather than the 25 year old sitting across from me. The pictures surprised me because I really knew nothing about Iraq. I didn’t realize how hot it gets there. Adam said the thermometer that was sitting by his head was always at 122 degrees. One thing I learned in my interview today was that the first thing he did when he returned to the states was went to Milford Lake. I didn’t know where Milford lake was located, I thought it was in Wisconsin. Milford Lake is the largest lake in Kansas and is only 20 minutes away from Fort Riley. He said he went there to marvel at the amount water. This thought made me stop and think about how other countries have problems with various things like water shortage and how sometimes people just take advantage of simple things like water. Today we also took our studio photos with Shawn McAfee.
Today I had my third interview with Adam. There were a few things that threw me off guard in this interview. The first thing was about his flight overseas. I asked him if anything was on his mind while on his flight. He told me only the music he was listening to. He tried sleeping but he was too excited. This surprised me because I think I would be thinking about a lot when flying overseas to participate in a war. I asked him what song he was listening to and he said it was Don’t Fear The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult. He had just found the song two days before leaving. Today was the first time I ever heard about pen flares. He accidently started a greenhouse on fire because they had pen flares to shoot instead of bullets. He said they would roll and bounce around before they would stop. I really liked how he explained them. He said, “shot this little ball of fire at somebody like you're Mario.” Super Mario Bros. is a nintendo game. In the game Mario will get a power up where he can shoot fireballs at enemies. The way he explained this using Mario, it really put an image in my head of what shooting little balls of fire could look like. After having three pretty decent interviews, I am now going to pick out the anecdotes that I want to use in my story and start looking at the way I want to structure my story. I will also start looking at the things I want to use in my three podcast I will be producing.
Today I am working on making my first podcast that is due before spring break. We did a tutorial in class on how to use Garageband but I didn’t really understand how to work it so I ended up learning Audacity. I think Audacity is easier to use. During spring break I want to start writing some of my story. I started to structure it a little bit, but I want to run it by Grace and see what she thinks. I’ve noticed that Adam talks about fishing a lot, so I want to incorporate that into my story someway. I was hoping to put it in the beginning as what he is doing in his present life. He talked a lot about fishing in his interviews and couldn't meet with me one day this week because he was going fishing with his brother to catch walleye. I also want to start thinking about writing my story behind the story. This shouldn't be too bad because we need to basically write about ourselves and what we think of this project. We were also assigned a project where we need to describe our vet in a descriptive way. I’m kind of a little worried to write this because I don’t feel like I know him enough to write a lot about him in a descriptive way. Adam was more open the second time I interviewed him.
Today we shared our first podcast with the class. I had to redo my podcast three times. The first one I recorded I said “warrior and students” and it should have been ‘warriors and students.” Grace wanted me to add a outro to my podcast. She texted Adam to ask him what kind of car he drives to add to the outro so it fit my intro. The second time I recorded my podcast Grace said that I was reading too formally. She told me it was fine if I wanted to use that one or I could record it again. I decided to record it again. I had to wait till after spring break because I got a bad cold and cough. Although it can be a lot of work to have to keep recording and editing the podcast, I am glad that I did record it for a third time. It sounded much better. Now I just have to add the music, intro and outro to make my first podcast complete. I didn’t get to work on my paper over spring break like I wanted to. I had to work a lot of hours because I work at Oaks Candy and it was very busy for Easter. I also decided that I wanted to rest and didn’t want to worry so much about school. That way when I get back I’ll have a clear mind to get back to work. I started working on my story on Easter Sunday because that was the only day I had off. It took me awhile to think of a lead. I ended up adding a few things to my original lead to make it feel like you were actually standing at the edge of the lake. I have a 1,300 word story done but it needs to be about 2,000 words. So I am going in to Grace’s office so she can look at what I got so far for my first draft.
This week in class we were asked to dress nicely for pictures and to video record ourselves. We walked around in the classroom playing around with our phones as Grace stood still getting her picture taken by Shawn McAfee. I didn’t really understand what the purpose of that was for. Actually the whole class was kind of confused. She also took photos of us working at our computer on the project. Then we took a few class photos. On Wednesday this week we met at Wayne’s studio to record ourselves talking about how we felt about the war project. We worked on our questions in class on Monday so we were prepared when asked the question. I was nervous to be recorded because we were under the bright lights and the class was all sitting around. I did wait to be one of the last students to go. That made me feel less stressed. I also laugh a lot when i’m nervous so I was afraid that I was going to bust out laughing and not be able to control it. I ended up not laughing and doing just fine. I was proud of myself. I think it was neat that we were able to discuss how we felt about the project as individuals. We also were able to talk about what we learned from our individual veteran.
Today we worked on our podcasts in class. The three I chose to talk about consist of his job as a lead vehicle gunner and how he was almost decapitated by an ethernet cable, the dangers of war all around and how he thought he was going to die when a rocket came in where he was hanging out with friends. I found these stories emotional. They show how a real person had to deal with these types of situations. He said that when the rocket came in and they all took cover and when they realized that it was just a dud they hugged each other and it felt like a movie moment. The way he explained this I could almost feel the emotion that was going on in that room. They didn’t know whether they were going to live or die. I have never exactly had a feeling where I thought I was going to die so I can’t even imagine what they were all feeling at that moment. Adam almost being decapitated by an ethernet cable was a different story and that’s why I chose this one as a podcast. In Iraq they don’t bury their Internet cables. They string them instead. When their truck was going down an alley, Adam had his head turned to the side and when he turned back forward the cable was at neck height. It gave him a bloody nose and almost ripped his helmet off. I need to get my podcast recorded and I didn’t exactly know how to pronounce Adam’s last name. I don’t remember if told me during the first interview because it was such a frazzled moment. Anyways I had to email and ask him if he could either email me back or call me with the way he pronounced his last name. He never got back to me so I just went in to record and if I pronounced it wrong I will just have to re record my podcast because it is so important to pronounce a person’s name right when you are in the journalism field. I felt kind of dumb emailing him to explain I didn’t know how to pronounce his last name. I wanted to make sure I pronounced it right because a lot of people will be listening to these podcast and reading our stories.
Today I met with Adam again so that he could read a few of his quotes for my podcasts. I got there at 8 a.m. and Adam didn’t show up till almost 9 a.m. Before I texted him I didn’t think he was going to show up. I am happy that was able to make it because it can be hard to always get our schedules to work out just right to meet up. While I was waiting I got a few pictures taken again with Shawn McAfee because she said my first few were out of focus. He had to read his quotes a few times through before Grace was happy with them. She told him that he got better as he read on. Adam started to read a clip out of Men’s Health Magazine about Ryan Reynolds to get him warmed up as a joke. The second time through he did a really good job and Grace was happy with end results. Adam also read over the third draft of my paper. I looked over it when he was done and there are a few things that I need to change. We then went over some more of his pictures from when he was in Iraq. We noticed that we didn’t have any photos of him, more were just of scenes in Iraq. I had to get ready to leave for class but I seemed that we got some nice photos of him. In these last few weeks I need to finish up my story behind the story which is about a 1,000 word essay. It’s about what we went through as a journalist getting and writing the story. It’s also about how we felt about the project in general. For example how much we actually knew about the war, if the project was easy or hard and things that shocked us.
This week I am going to get all three of my podcast done. I had the first one done with music added and everything but it was a little too short and Grace wanted Adam to read his quotes instead of using the ones from my interviews. That way it sounds better because you don’t have all the umms and likes. I re recorded myself on Wednesday in class. When I went to cut and edit my podcast I sounded very quiet and there was a white noise and echo so I went to record again in the studio in Polk 7 on Thursday before one of my classes. Grace was not in her office and there was no SD drive by the microphone so I decided to just stop back on Friday. That worked out just fine because I ended up just going to the computer labs on campus and worked on cutting the lines Adam read for me. I didn’t want to mess with her things on her desk or end up erasing something very important. When I back in on Friday I recorded all my scripts for the podcast and when Grace went to put them in my folder again my voice sounder very soft. We went in by the microphone and Grace noticed that I never turned it on. So I recorded myself again for the like sixth time. Finally I can cut and edit everything and add the music to all my podcast. I am going to get up earlier than what I usually do so that I can get these podcast done and then I can use my nights to work on different homework for my other classes. These last two weeks are always hard to juggle all your homework because so much is due for all my classes.
My last journal entry I would like to talk about my thoughts about the project and what I got out of it as a whole. First off when I first read about the war project in the syllabus I thought it would be easy where we only interview our veteran one time and that was it. When I got to class the first day and heard about the war project I thought this is going to be so hard and a lot of work. I wondered how I was going to fit in all the work of my other classes with this project. I was really nervous to interview my veteran for the first time. My original veteran I was assigned to never wrote me back so I was paired up with a different veteran and basically got thrown into the interview without warning. In all honesty I think this helped me out because I didn’t have a lot of time to sit and think about how nervous I was. I just had to come up with questions fast and just dive in headfirst and go with whatever came up. I feel like I am walking away with so much from this project personally and as a journalist. First of all you don’t really realize what these veterans go through until you hear their stories from them personally. Sure you can read a story in a book or a magazine but you don’t get the real emotions that you get when they are sitting right across from you. This war project made me enjoy writing more and it really is a neat thing to listen to a person’s story. I learned how to use many different multimedia programs that were key to getting these projects complete. It honestly felt more like a job than school most days. When I sit down and think about how many words I transcribe, the story final story I wrote, the story behind the story and all the journal entries I can’t believe how much words that was all together. All together it was over 12,000 words. I am really proud of myself for being able to complete this project with all the workloads of other classes and having a job. I went to the Green Medicine event, a story Grace's previous class worked on. and thought it was neat. I am really looking forward to the event that is held to show everyone our hard work on the project and our veterans stories.