Interview with Ray Suarez
I had been looking forward to interviewing Ray Suarez since the very beginning of the trip. I had heard a lot about his tendency to say exactly what he means and thinks, which definitely proved to be true. So it’s needless to say that after sitting next to the empty chair meant for Suarez, I was pretty nervous. We were told that whoever is seated next to him has to make small talk while we ate breakfast. Interviews I can handle no problem, small talk, not so much.
Through breakfast, Suarez told me and the few others seated near him about a new biography he is writing and a little about the man it’s about. He also spoke to me about being a journalist in New York City and how with the increasing ease of posting blogs, articles and opinions on the Internet, it seems as though anyone can be a journalist.
The interview was soon underway and with each question, the intensity of my nerves grew. Then right when I thought my heart was going to beat out of my chest and land on the table in front of me, one of the questions I had written was asked. It was based off of a quote from Suarez which said, “People have always asked me about doing live television and live radio, ‘Do you get nervous?’ I wouldn’t call it nervous as a kind of forced concentration that is mental and physical at the same time.” In his response to the question, Suarez described to us the difference between nervousness and hyper awareness. He said that nervousness undermines your ability to do anything, but hyper awareness is like being a conductor of an orchestra. After he said this, I realized that I wasn’t nervous anymore. I had subconsciously taken his advice and not let my nervousness undermine my ability to pay attention to the interview and instead turned it into hyper awareness.
Something that truly struck me during the interview was in his response to the very last question. When asked what advice he would give to his younger self, he said, “to relax a little more because some stuff just gets taken care of in time.” This quote resonated very deeply with me because I have a tendency of worrying too much about how things are going to turn out and what I’m going to do with my life. But after really thinking about what he said, I realized that I don’t need to figure everything out, I don’t need to take care of everything right now because “some stuff just gets taken care of in time.”
Overall, I really enjoyed our interview with Ray Suarez. His ability to engage an audience was impressive to say the least. After interviewing numerous politicians, it was refreshing to interview someone who spoke their mind without hesitation. From biased media, to Trump, to the Boy Scouts, he always seemed to draw my attention and curiosity no matter what we were talking about.
Ray Suarez reports the truth and only the truth, and he tells us many other reporters have lost sight of this basic law. Fox News and other entertainment channels have been built to lie and build hatred towards anyone whose name is mentioned. This doesn’t only affect that person’s life, but ours as well, making us have a bias when we talk, interact and especially vote. The power speech has today is simply overwhelming, but Mr. Suarez says it can also be used for good as well. If we use our voice to report news and issues in a way that educates without panicking the public, then we are doing news right. Many issues are exaggerated to the point where it shadows over real issues. This is a huge problem because those issues could have been fixed by the very system made to fix them. As a nation, we need to fix our voice to better suit America; only then can we truly see the issues we face as a world.
Interview with Norris Cochran and Ellen Murray
One of the interviews today that we did was with Norris Cochran and Ellen Murray from the Department of Health and Human Services. It was the first and only interview that we did with two people. I thought that it went very well. Norris is a family friend, so it was really nice to see him. Both Norris and Ms. Murray had very interesting and informative things to say. We learned more in depth about the Department of Health and Human Services. They spoke more about some of the specific diseases that they are funding to find more research for, such as the Zika virus. They also told stories about their journey in their career path and how they got to where they are now. In addition they stressed the importance of public service. They believe that it is very important to be passionate about your work and to serve for a greater purpose outside yourself.
I agree strongly with what they had to say about serving the greater good and doing what you love. Like many of the others we interviewed, they talked about the mentors they had in their lives that helped and inspired them along their career path. Before this trip I had never realized the importance and impact that mentors have on individuals achieving their goals. Ellen had to leave to go to a meeting slightly earlier than the cut off time, but we were still able to finish the wonderful interview with Norris Cochran. Out of the people l talked to everyone seemed to have really liked Norris and Ms. Murray. Both were articulate, well-spoken, and kind. At the end of the interview, Norris gave me a Department of Health and Human Services mug, which was the sprinkles on top of a very intriguing interview.
I did not know who Norris Cochran or Ellen Murray were before yesterday. I mean I had seen their names, done some research and such, but anyone who says they develop a real sense of who people are based on online research is simply speaking from a fictitious point of view. The Department of Health and Human Services was under some criticism by protesters when we arrived. The fuss was from some people who wanted funding for research of chronic fatigue syndrome. Because it is something that doesn’t sound dire, apparently some patients were apparently labeled as such and turned away. That was disheartening to hear. One of our family friends was not diagnosed but was having horrible trouble staying awake during everyday activities. It became a point of fear for all when she said she had been falling asleep behind the wheel regularly. Perhaps I was a bit put off, hearing about this and relating it to my own life, but the connection concerned me.
When Norris and Ms. Murray spoke to us, I felt better. They were kind, funny, and very clearly cared a great deal about people’s health and well being, or they would have very simply not been doing the public service that demands such a great amount of care and attention. They are good people doing great work, and although I am fearful and hope that there will soon be some research into this area of illness, I didn’t feel the distain felt by these protesters. If they were to meet the people we did and understand, as I do now, the dedication they put in each day, the protestors might feel differently. At the same time I hope they also see and approve some funding for this. Isn’t it the way of the world for these miscommunications to occur with good intention but to be overlooked by emotion? I wish the best for them all.
The Capitol Gallery
Ward preaches that you say “Yes” to every opportunity. On this day, I am glad that we followed his advice. We were sitting on the lawn in front of the Capitol, hungrily munching on our lunch. Despite the fact that it was the eightieth hummus and cheese sandwich I have had on the trip, I was happy to eat; I was hungry. Suddenly Ward yelled, “Get up! Pack everything away! Leave your bags behind; let’s go. We’re going to the Gallery.” I didn’t ask any questions, I just ditched my sandwich and left with the group. We were escorted my Tom Tucker, Sam Farr’s Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff. We were ushered through yet another metal detector—at this point we knew the drill. We were then led past the statues of former Congressmen, eternalized in copper on a marble pedestal. Then we walked up the steps and came face to face with a huge painting, it covered the entire wall. It was The Signing of the Constitution, and it looked like the real painting! So this must be what The Gallery is, a bunch of paintings! We went through another metal detector and walked through doors that I expected to lead into a gallery of paintings. It did not.
We walked out onto a balcony that overlooked a huge, bustling room with rows of benches and a formidable table in the front. I recognized this place, but I had only seen it on T.V. and in clips on Facebook. It was where Congressmen voted for bills and held debates. We all peered over the edge of the balcony and excitedly pointed out familiar faces. “Look, there’s Joe Kennedy! Is that John Lewis? Ooh look Huffman!” Tom Tucker handed us papers that explained the bills, so we had a general idea of what they were voting on. “Blumenauer voted no! Cole voted yes! Donovan changed his vote!” It was exciting seeing the process of passing bills and amendments. I was directly witnessing Congressmen at work. I thought of my sister Ciana and how much she would have loved to see the organized chaos going on below me. Everyone was talking and shaking hands, laughing and having a good time. I was amazed. Despite the seriousness of the amendments that were being passed, which had to do with energy funding, the Congressmen were all having a good time.
In witnessing this, I witnessed the humanity of politics. It was not mindless democracy, separated by just Democrat and Republican. It was people who proudly represented where they came from, people who did their job with passion. I noticed that Congressman Blumenauer voted differently that I thought the other Democrats would, but after meeting him and understanding how intelligent he is, I trusted that there was reason behind it. Many politicians changed their vote, showing how conflicted they may be on issues. And Congressman Cardenas was not voting at all, because we knew he was back in L.A. with his newborn grandchild. Congressman Sam Farr was talking about us with his fellow Congressmen, beaming and waving from the floor below. These are people, who were chosen by the people to represent them. They are not defined by their party, but rather their actions as people. They are not defined by their stance on their issues, but rather their constituents for whom they stand for.
Interview with Tenzin Tethong
As I was behind the camera during our interview with Tenzin Tethong, I was not able to write down any quotes. But on the other hand, the camera I was behind was the one that focuses on his face, so I was able to pay closer attention to him. Through the headphones connected to his microphone I could hear his soft voice clearly. His voice was so calming and stories flowed from him with an ease that reminded me of my grandmother. I could easily see how he managed to relax scared Tibetan refugees.
I loved listening to what he learned from the Dalai Lama about how to respect all people, regardless of race, gender, or age. He talked about how he sees all people as people and not in regards to how society might categorize them. He also talked about how language is important in preserving culture. He said that language is important in order to share knowledge from educational experiences with others.
Another characteristic that stood out about him was his humility. He did not see others in a certain way and he did not see himself as any more than others, despite the fact that he’s helped so many people. His devotion to his people was evident in every word he spoke, and from behind the camera, I could clearly see how deeply interested he was at what people were saying when he spoke to them. Overall I really appreciated that he took the time out to speak with us.
I’ll admit; it was hard to focus in the hot and muggy DC air. The temperature stayed at a steady 90 degrees throughout the day, and everyone definitely felt the heat go to their head. We sat down for our final interview, with Tenzin Tethong, and my foggy mind was trying its hardest to focus. However, Tenzin Tethong’s story enabled me to delve into our final interview.
Tenzin Tethong began the interview with a background of the radio station Radio Free Asia (RFA). He barely went into his remarkable and captivating story of his own life, which emphasized his humility. As the interview progressed, he shared his knowledge of Tibet and its interesting culture. With each question, new pieces of his story emerged, allowing us to begin to piece together our understanding of his life, which kept everyone in the room wanting to know more. Even after the interview, I feel like I am still tugged into the amazing spiral of culture, experience, and humbleness that Tenzin Tethong possesses.
One of the quotes that struck me was when he was talking about his time at the Tibetan refugee school in Mussoorie and the impact it had on him. He said, “Out of chaos and disorder, you can grow into something better.” I resonated with this because I have found that it’s difficult to pull oneself out of a difficult situation or experience, and it’s even harder to imagine something good coming out of it. What I ultimately took away from this was that in those arduous moments, there is room for growth and optimism, and I think that is something that I will carry with me throughout my life.