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Misdeeds, misdemeanors, miscommunications: Life lessons from MoJo commentators on KBIA


In this recent series of commentaries for KBIA.org, Missouri student journalists recount a few of life’s confusing lessons. Led by Missouri School of Journalism Professor and storytelling master Berkley Hudson, these 11 student commentators took not only pen to paper but also got in front of the microphone, to talk out these essays that touch on life, relationships, growing up and striking out, among other issues. Enjoy!

First up: Living in a larger city has its conveniences, but they don’t always compensate for the beauties of the small-town life. Chris Roll, a journalism student at the University of Missouri, stands on the threshold of graduation. As he prepares to return home to the Ozarks region of southern Missouri, he reflects on the contrasts between small town life and Columbia, and what readjustment will mean.

On her sixth birthday, Allyson got the surprise of her life. It wasn't the pony she had always hoped for, but a sibling. Though excited at first, her excitement dwindled as the two got older and no one could sympathize in her quest to be separate from her brother. After years of not wanting to be a packaged deal, the most unlikely of surprises occurred and changed her outlook forever. You think sharing your birthday with 19 million others in the world is bad? At least you get your own cake. In this piece, commentator Allyson Wilson talks about accepting her shared birthday fate.

Hear Allyson Wilson's commentary:

In the South, college football is a religion. In fact, research shows Southerners feel a greater sense of community in the stands at game than in church. Does Clemson University in South Carolina live up to the holy hype? Clemson alum Megan Madden has this commentary, recounting a Saturday in Death Valley. From the clothes we wear to the traditions we sanctify, writes Madden, Clemson University is home to all the hallowed practices Southern football has to offer. We worship the game and treat our stadium as a sanctuary in its own right. Growing up there and attending college in the South, it's nearly impossible to not become a follower of the football way of life.

Hear Megan Madden's commentary:

Is it better to encourage students to explore different ways to solve one math problem or teach them the best solution and then move to the next question? Unlike American educators who applaud creativity, Chinese teachers prioritize efficiency. Is there a better way to educate? After studying in the U.S. for more than two years in total, commentator Dandan Zou, and MU journalism student from China, explores the differences between American and Chinese education, and suggests that maybe the answer is not either-or, but both?

Listen to Dandan Zou's commentary:

Parents, and grandparents, are not always the easiest people to talk to. But maybe when we don’t try that hard, we miss out. In this piece, commentator Stephen Johnson recounts how a confusing phone scam created, if not a meaningful conversation, at least a clearer line of communication.

Hear Stephen Johnson's commentary:

In the 1980s, REM singer Michael Stipe sang with the Indigo Girls  about “kid fears” and what we’d all give now to replace our grown-up disillusionment with those innocent concerns. But for writer Michael Barajas, an irrational childhood fear - of bees - isn’t something he’d be eager to go back to, partly because it’s a fear that took him way too long to let go of.

Hear Michael Barajas's commentary:

How is that a man who has lived through and survived one of history’s most sinister and dangerous eras can in old age succumb to a mere mortal illness? In this commentary, Ben Kupiszewski honors his hero, a survivor, who also happens to be his grandfather.

Listen to Ben Kupiszewski's commentary:

What does a country club mom have in common with the man who’s berating the clerk at a gas station? And why can’t people ever seem to treat people in the service industry with a base level of decency? Here, commentator Edward Hart talks about his experiences as a country club lifeguard during high school and what it taught him about how you should treat people whose job it is to be nice to you.

Hear Edward Hart's commentary:

In some ways, you’ve got to be brave to buy general admission tickets to a concert. It involves waiting several hours outside before going into the venue and waiting another hour or so before the band comes out. During this essential time, luxuries such as food, water, and restroom breaks are forgotten. But the sacrifice is rewarded the moment the band walks onto the stage. For this temporary hour or so, those crammed together in the pit escape from their lives and respond to the music. Commentator Amber Meatte has always been an avid music-lover. Over the years, she has seen 30-plus bands live. During her time at Mizzou, she interviewed bands, recapped concerts, and wrote album reviews for Vox Magazine. Here, Meatte explains why the pit will always be better than the seat, and acknowledges some of the inevitable dangers one might face with a general admission ticket.

Listen to Amber Meatte's commentary:

When Allison Pohle decided to accompany her mother on an extreme workout boot camp class, she thought she knew what she was getting into. Her regular cardio exercise classes at college, Allison reasoned, would have prepared her for her mother’s exercise regime. But she was wrong. Here, she shares how she met defeat on the gym floor, but in the process learned some of the wonderful things she and her mother have in common. To begin with, they both know that in some compromising situations, all you can do is laugh.

Hear Allison Pohle's commentary:

With today’s screen culture, sometimes just talking or making eye contact with family members can be a challenge – who has time to sit around a table playing games? But for commentator Dani Vanderboegh, family game boards have always been something to aspire to and conquer. And as she explains in this commentary, now that she’s away at college she sees how the Parcheesi has brought some unexpected family benefits.

Hear Dani Vanderboegh's commentary:

Janet Saidi is a producer and professor at KBIA and the Missouri School of Journalism.