I was invited to speak to a group of 8th graders at a local school this week. No, not about how it's impossible to eat popcorn without dropping at least one piece at some point. And not about how it feels to grow a giant in a petite person's body. I was asked to talk about being a TV news reporter. Surprise!
8th graders are so much younger than I remember them. And the boy that escorted me from the front office was just the most polite middle school gentleman ever! Just as I was about to ask for some help, I heard a "Ms. Nguyen?" Not a "Ms. Na-GUY-in?" Not a "Ms. Na GOO yen?" Not a "Ms. En-GUY-in?"
Bonus points for him. He was there, wearing a giant backpack, ready take the prego lady to his classroom. After shaking my hand, he OPENED the door for me and allowed me to go through first. On the way to class, we exchanged pleasantries about his campus and classes and where he's applying to high schools for next year. I was so impressed. I have met grown adults who could learn manners and conversational skills from this boy. Mental note: if Babius is a boy, we must teach him to be uber polite. There's something so sweet about a tween-ager who steps aside and motions for you to walk ahead of him up the ramp to his portable classroom. Instead of swooshing by you on a skateboard and making you want to yell, "Damn you kids, get off my lawn!"
It's always fun talking to young people about the business. And no, I didn't tell them to run, run away from journalism into the arms of a tech job. But almost every kid in that room raised a hand when I asked who had smart phones. And their primary news sources on those phones were Yahoo and CNN. Not NBC Bay Area or a local news site. Hear that? That's the sound of the ax falling on more local news jobs.
But on the bright side, a few of them write for their school paper, and they asked a lot of good questions--like how do we come up with stories or what happens when we're in a dangerous situation. And before I left, they gave me two rounds of applause and wished me well with Babius. "Have a good pregnancy!"
I love South Bay public school kids.
Hats off to teachers--it's fun parachuting in for a day and showing some video clips from my Youtube channel and answering questions for an hour. It's a whole 'nother bag to dedicate your career to engaging and educating young people every day.