It’s Louisiana’s birthday, and here’s why you should be proud

Today Louisiana celebrates her 202nd birthday.

I have found that I am one of the few students at LSU who is proud to be from Louisiana, and wishes to remain here. My classmates bash her all the time:

We’re fat, uneducated, ignorant, and close-minded. We have awful roads and mediocre schools. Our politicians are corrupt. Our crime is staggering and our health is shocking.

My classmates dream of living in glamourous places like Los Angeles, or New York, or London. It is there, they say, where opportunities of success thrive.

“Why would you ever stay in a failing state with more problems than you can list?” they ask me.

Here’s my reply.

Louisiana is home. This place is filled with good, decent people who care about the well-being of their neighbors. This place is filled with warm, welcoming people who know how to have fun. This place is filled with caring, loving people who protect their communities.

I care about these people. I don’t want to see them living in poverty and living with diseases. Louisiana deserves better. We’re not perfect. But I want to stay here to fix the problems of those good, decent, warm, welcoming, caring and loving people. My fellow Louisianans need help. We need money and resources. We need leaders who are driven by passion instead of power. We need bright ideas.

I believe in these people. And I believe that I can help them. And I believe that they can help themselves if they are given the right opportunities and resources. But how will they ever get the opportunity if the best and brightest young people lend their valuable talent and skills to states already overflowing with entrepreneurs and engineers and thinkers and leaders?

I challenge my classmates to stay! Love your home! Fix it, better it, be the change! Stop complaining about our issues and use the blessings God gave you to show the world that Louisiana is not a place to be ashamed of, but a place to be proud of.

Happy birthday, Louisiana. I wish you 202 years different than the ones we are leaving behind. I wish you a future where your homegrown people cling to you and help you and build you up to your fullest potential. You are beautiful and wonderful and mysterious and fun and eccentric and hospitable, and I don’t ever want you to lose those traits. I wish for you that your sons and daughters use those characteristics for the good of your being. Here’s to you, Louisiana. Grow and flourish.

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It’s Green for a Reason

As the cartoon plane approached Ireland’s coast on the map in front of me, I peered outside the plane to catch my first glimpse of the Emerald Isle. All I saw was white, and then the plane sunk below the clouds.

Green. Everywhere I looked was green.

There were odd-shaped green fields, divided by green trees. Miniscule cows and sheep grazed on green pastures, dotted with green shrubs and green bushes. Quaint farm houses and churches, isolated on great, big green lawns, were spotted on the green hills that rose and fell over the green landscape.

I leaned over to the man sitting in my aisle and said, “It’s just so green.”

“It’s green for a reason,” he said with a smirk and an Irish lilt. He and his five-year-old American son were visiting family for the first time in years. “Look, baby. That’s our Ireland!”

I walked out of the airport to my group’s bus, and knew immediately what he meant by “green for a reason.” A dreary mist set over the parking lot, and it hasn’t let up for the last nine hours. It’s wet, it’s windy, and it’s very chilly for someone who left a place where the heat index was over 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

But, it’s beautiful. Every crack in the sidewalk, every free space of ground is green and wildflowers grow everywhere. I even saw some pink flowers growing out of the side of a stone bridge, ten feet above ground. Sheep, cattle and horses graze and are kept in their pastures by basic wooden fences or old stone walls.

I can’t wait to see what this trip holds!

Thanks for reading,
Danielle

So you want to write a blog

Hello world,

This is Danielle Kelley, logging into yet another blogging website. Let’s see how WordPress does. I’ve tried writing in multiple outlets, but I can’t seem to maintain the digital trail all my professors have been harping on me for. I study at the Manship School of Mass Communication at only the best college in the country – Louisiana State University.

Geaux Tigers.

I began my days at LSU wanting to be a journalist. I snagged a job at the campus paper, The Daily Reveille (which by the way, just won SPJ’s Best Daily Student Newspaper). I loved the adrenaline rush of deadline. I burned inside when I came up with a great question for a source. The Reveille was great, and my journalism classes were wonderful, but there were just a few thoughts that kept annoyingly buzzing in my brain. I tried to swat the pest-y questions away, but ultimately my brain beat my heart in a senseless battle.

What if I was assigned the crime beat my first few years at a “real” paper?

One of my honest instructors sat the small print news editing class down, and gave us a heart-to-heart. “Your first job will be the crime beat. No one wants the crime beat, so the editor gives it to the newest reporter on the job. You will have your cell phone on loud at night, in case you have to cover a murder in the early morning hours. You will have to interview weeping mothers, sobbing wives. You’ll have to ask them intrusive questions that go against instinct.”

Then he told us about a recent story he had to cover: a man on bath salts attacked his pregnant wife with a knife and cut the fetus out of her. The baby did not survive, and she barely did.

“How do you write that? How did you interview those sources?” I asked him.

He told me he’d built up a defense wall to the emotions. This is why editors give young reporters the crime beat; if you don’t learn to desensitize, you mentally and emotionally won’t be able to write hard news.

That week, my boyfriend’s fraternity brother was killed by a drunk driver. The Pike boys asked me to write his obituary. I interviewed his pledge brothers about Miles’ personality, hobbies and legacy. It was difficult to witness these boys try so hard to act like their idea of men. Some spoke softly and stared at the ground in disbelief. One laughed and smirked as if I couldn’t see the despair in his eyes.

I went to the newsroom and sat down at the computer. Everyone smiled at me halfheartedly as I entered; they saw my puffy eyes. After deleting the fourth draft of a lead, one of the editors moved my direction. He opened his mouth, paused, furrowed his eyebrows and turned around. No one could help me, and no one wanted to. They all knew one day they would have to write their first obituary.

I knew I could never build up my professor’s wall to pain, grief and emotion. I’m not sure if I would even want to not feel anger that a young soul was taken because of drunk driving.

After the obituary ran, I met with my counselor to ask her to switch my concentration from journalism to public relations. I would still write, but without the crime, death and destruction.

Writing is cathartic, but only if you write about your own life.

Thanks for reading,
Danielle