Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Runner Up

National Geographic Glimpse offers a program for 8 different people living around the world to be correspondents and write different articles for them for a few months. The competition is tough, but it's the kind of program that can really improve your writing and boost you to the next level. The program is offered for the fall and spring every year. I'd applied in the summer for the fall program and wasn't accepted. So I applied again for the spring, changing my application a bit. This time around, I was selected as a finalist. Only 25 people out of over 600 were chosen as finalists, and of that only 8 would be chosen as the correspondents.

After a long time of waiting to hear, I finally found out that I wasn't selected, but am an alternate, so if one of the other correspondents doesn't work out, I could be asked to step in. While it's obviously a huge honor to even be considered a finalist for National Geographic, it's still a let down to not be chosen. Nothing can actually replace being selected in the top 8.

But I'm also thinking about how missed opportunities and second chances kind of got me started in the first place. I added journalism as a major towards the end of my freshman year, kind of on a whim. A friend had been accepted to the program and I thought that I liked to write and wanted to give it a shot. My sophomore year I applied for a travel writing and photojournalism class that would go to Sicily for spring break to document the trip. I wasn't accepted and was pretty upset, but went home for winter break and forgot about it. A few days before heading back to school for the spring semester I got a call from the teacher saying a spot opened up and I was welcome to join the class.

From there I just continued to grow interest in travel writing. In Sicily I realized that I wanted to study abroad in Spain (kind of random) and in Spain I realized that I wanted to live abroad again for a longer period of time. After returning from Spain I found an internship with a Web site I'd never heard of which now is actually out of business. I went to my internship coordinator and told her about it, she immediately said, "No, you're going to do this one instead." So she put in a call to GoNOMAD and I basically had the internship without a question.

I remember being a little miffed, because I did the work to find the internship, and she suddenly told me it wasn't good enough and had me change over. But it ended up working out great. I was able to get first hand experience writing articles and editing, and I even got to go on a press trip in Grenada which helped me network, as well as see more of the inside of travel writing. As it turned out, I realized because of that trip that I'm not really interested in travel writing as a whole, but rather traveling and writing about it. The glitzy magazines are fine if you want to find a new resort to go to, but I'd rather do something and then be able to write freely.

Now I've got to try to look at the bright side and hope that there can be a positive from not actually being selected. I never expected to even get that far, so being named a finalist and alternate is still an honor. But I'll keep writing and hoping that someone out there is reading and actually enjoying it. And maybe someday it will come back to me.


Anonymous said...

Jon maybe as an insider you can give us comments on the latest visa changes

Jon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jon said...

As far as I know, the major change in the visas for tourists is as follows:

You used to be able to stay for 90 days and then hop the border for 5 minutes to Peru or Colombia and re-up for another 90 days. Now, however, a tourist visa will only get you 90 days. You can't just leave and come back the same day. From what I've been told, you actually can't come back for another year or two. That's just the rumors around the expat beat though. Hope that helps.

Anonymous said...

Jon I am posting a reply I got from a person familiar with the visa rules..."As of a couple days ago (when I talked to a lawyer friend in Quito) you can get the 90 extension but you have to leave the country and then re-enter. Until two or three months ago, foreigners in Cuenca could get the extension at the immigration office on Av. Lazo. Several folks I know who are here on T-3 visas (the tourist stamp you get in your passport when you come into Ecuador) take 2 or 3 day trips to Peru or Colombia to get their extension on re-entry.

You can still get the paper tourist visa --the 12-IX, I think-- which is good for 6 months and doesn't require you to leave and re-enter, but you have get this, or at least complete the paperwork for it, in your home country before you enter Ecaudor."

This reply certainly gives hope, as on the pages of dave's eslcafe the talk seems to be that its 90 days and thats it!!

Jon said...

Thanks for following up on that! I think that's definitely relevant information for anyone thinking of traveling to Ecuador.