Sayaka Kochi



Recalling the past few months, I have been through multiple challenges that I had been afraid of tackling. One of the biggest challenges was getting out of my comfort zone and making myself feel excited when I talk to new people.

As a non-native English speaker, the language barrier was one of the biggest concerns. I was scared that I might say something inappropriate, which has the potential to hurt someone who takes time for me and share their personal stories with me.

Because of this fear, I couldn’t enjoy from the bottom of my heart the times spending with the interviewees at the beginning. However, as I interviewed multiple persons who were not fluent in English like me, I was really inspired by how strong their words were. They spoke with passion no matter how difficult to speak the non-native language.

Listening to their strong voices, I came to be able to focus more on what I want to tell but not how I tell. Language is a significant tool in communication. But, more importantly, I could realize that I had to be more open to those who talk with me. As I was encouraged by those interviewees, I could find myself excited without feeling any fear when I talked to new people.

I also found difficulty in setting my own viewpoints aside. It was really tough. Since I am in the minority group as the interviewees are, I had resonance with their feelings at some point. I compared their stories with mine, which let me stand at their side. Hence, each time I finalized the drafts, I showed them to a third person so that I could see my stories from the readers’ viewpoints.

Through getting over some challenges, I could learn the basic skills of reporting, such as how to interview and how to write an eye-catching title or lead. I still have so many skills that need to be trained, but at least, I have recognized that I can get a little bit closer to be a professional journalist. I’m sure this experience will help my future self, involving in the communication field.


IMG_0493I am a senior-year student majoring in communication with a journalism emphasis at the University of Utah. Meeting new people and listening to their stories always makes me feel excited and empowered. But, actually becoming a journalist was not on top of my career choices.

I used to dream of becoming an ecologist. Since I grew up around nature and animals in Japan, I have naturally desired to know more about ecology and save it from environmental destruction. I, therefore, started learning biology when I got into Shizuoka University in Japan. As I spent time in the classrooms and outside the campus, I had a lot of opportunities to see new people who inspired me in many ways. Their words showed me another world. I could talk to various researchers as well. Their stories struck me. In a series of these experiences, I came to be more motivated to seek new stories, new people, and new experiences than research. After I completed the bachelor’s degree in biology, I flew to the United States in 2017 to see the whole new world. Now, I desire to be an environment journalist.

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