Kristine C. Weller



When I heard our beat this semester was “the” Asian American community, I was very excited. 

Given the amount of Asian hate spurred by the coronavirus, and the number of microaggressions and discrimination Asian Americans experience on a daily basis, I knew this topic was important to cover. It is beneficial to report on beats such as this because they bring light to issues different groups face.

But I was also anxious. I felt unqualified. 

I had only published one story, and I was worried people wouldn’t want to speak with me and that my writing wouldn’t depict these communities accurately. 

This is why on the drive to the Wat Dhammagunaram temple in Layton, I did not stop when planned.

I was almost on autopilot. The drive to my hometown is one I have experienced many times. Even the path to the temple is very familiar — I admired it every day on my way to junior high. 

But as I saw the temple come into view at 10:30 a.m., I passed it. I didn’t pull into the parking lot as I was supposed to. 

I drove all the way to my childhood home and then back to the temple, 10 minutes round trip. 

After finally pulling into the parking lot of the temple, I felt the familiar pang of nerves. I had been here the week before, but that was to talk to just one monk, Phitthayaphon. Now I needed to talk to people attending the Sunday service, I needed to face a group. 

Would they refuse to talk to me? Would they be annoyed I was there?

I checked my bag for seemingly the tenth time that day. All the important things were accounted for: a small notebook with easily turnable pages, a fully charged phone and five pens. 

The five pens might have been overkill, but I wanted to be prepared. 

I walked to the front door of the temple and slipped off my dress shoes, placing them on the rack by other pairs. It had recently rained, and I was careful not to get my socks wet as I stepped toward the door and walked inside. 

I only had a second to take everything in before Arunne Chwab, who I later learned is a committee member at the temple, greeted me. 

“Are you new?” she asked. 

I breathed a sigh of relief. Right when she addressed me, I knew I would be OK. Everyone was so friendly, introducing me to others I might like to speak with, like Poonie, the oldest Buddhist in the temple, or Warunee, the temple treasurer. 

This moment reminded me why I love meeting new people. Although I’m not sure if I will ever feel less anxious going into situations like this, I am always delighted to find that people are so kind. It is a pleasure to meet and talk with such welcoming people. 

Discovering I really enjoy talking to varied people is part of why I decided to start studying journalism. 

In the fall of 2021, I was just learning the basics of journalism. Only half a year later, I am completely sure I want to be a journalist. 

While working on my story on the Wat Dhammagunaram temple, I didn’t just write because I needed to meet a deadline — I wrote because I like writing. I enjoyed every step of the process and continued editing until I felt I had a product that was my best. 

Anxiety has been a constant companion when I think of my future career. However, now that I know I can do something I am passionate about, enjoy, and is important, my anxiety has eased.

I am so glad the stories for this beat allowed me to learn so much about myself and about Asian American people and communities. Plus, I feel a little more qualified to be a journalist. 


Kristine Weller recently went through a major change. Previously studying business economics and on the path to becoming a consultant, she is now an aspiring journalist. Weller realized that she would rather pursue her passion and affinity for writing. Looking through different career paths, she discovered journalism and decided to try it out. 

Although it was something new and challenging, writing and reporting were very exciting. Weller published her first story and knew very quickly that journalism was the right path for her. She is now studying communication with an emphasis in journalism and international studies with a focus on human rights. Weller plans to graduate from the University of Utah in 2023. After graduation, she wishes to combine both of her studies by reporting on human rights-related issues. 

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