Members of the Lafayette Fire Department raise the American Flag during Memorial Day Service at Fountain Memorial Funeral Home & Cemetery on Monday, May 27, 2019 in Lafayette, La..

Shadowing with Megan Wyatt and Leslie Westbrook at The Advocate was a wonderful experience for me. I came from China, and I am a high school senior at The Academy of the Sacred Heart.

One of the requirements for seniors in our school is to do internships in fields in which we are interested, and we are required to work at least 25 hours.

I shadowed with The Advocate for two days. I went with Leslie to shoot some pictures for a bicycle ride to honor a policeman killed two years ago in the line of duty. Later, I went with both Megan and Leslie to interview Bill Miller in Youngsville. He helps his neighbors to hang American flags in front of their houses in order to bring awareness of patriotism to more people.

While talking with Miller, I told him that it’s rare for people to put up a flag in my hometown due to the limitation of space. Miller responded that a flag doesn’t have to be outside of a house. It could be inside a house, and what matters the most is it’s in people’s heart.

I also learned about Miller’s ideas of patriotism. According to him, patriotism isn’t just fighting in the war, military, or veteran services. “Patriotism is about sacrifice”, he stressed. He believes patriotism is everyone working hard fulfilling their tasks to achieve happiness while cooperating to serve the country.

One thing I noticed during my shadow is the importance of loving your job. Megan told me it’s hard to separate work with free time, and there are frustrating and intense days of work. However, she has always loved writing and working as a journalist.

Leslie loves newspaper photography because of how unpredictable it could be. The word “news” has various definitions, but for me, it means to capture the ephemerals. Working in the journalism field needs intentional observation skills and the will and capacity to capture events. Intense work becomes less stressful if you enjoy doing it.

Coming from China, where overpopulation is affecting job opportunities, I have learned to cherish this experience even more by comparing the two countries’ working environments and noticing how they affect the general understanding of happiness and how people pursue their happiness in different ways.

Throughout my experience with The Advocate, I have learned a lot about working individually and working in a team as journalists. Full-time journalists have varied working hours and their tasks can be distributed differently, but everyone contributes to the team. The successful cooperation and the fulfillment I have experienced motivates me to look forward in life and to do what makes me happy.

Xiao Ma

senior, The Academy of the Sacred Heart

Grand Couteau