Why this storyteller is going to be a journalist

Wintec student and storyteller Maryana Garcia knows she wants to be a journalist

Wintec Communication student and writer Maryana Garcia is on a mission to become a journalist.

There’s a keenness about Philippine-born, Hamilton student Maryana Garcia that is infectious. Talk to her for a few minutes and the possibilities of the world suddenly open and you discover she is on a mission to prove journalism is alive because it is her “absolute calling”.

Garcia is in her final weeks of a one-year Graduate Diploma in Communication specialising in Journalism at Wintec.

“It has taken a while to convince myself what I really wanted to do and I’m all in, no holds barred,” she says with conviction.

 “I know the market is tough. But I have a dream to tell other people’s stories, to be a journalist.”

It’s not just a dream.

The reality is Garcia has been telling people’s stories. Her project, Unsung Aotearoa, which she started during the COVID-19 lockdown, is a lens on the lives of her Hamilton housemates where she crafts words, video and design to tell their stories.

“I figured no one else would know the people I know, so I interviewed the people in my bubble. Now I have a time capsule of these people from my lockdown world.”

Unsung Aotearoa started as a course assignment but Garcia has a plan to go back and reinterview the people from her lockdown bubble.

“The lockdown made my project possible and it gave me breathing room, but everything seemed to require more effort. Because you spent more time connecting by focussing on a screen, it involved more concentration and it was energy draining.”

Twenty-eight year-old Garcia was one of thousands of tertiary students forced to learn online from March-June in 2020. In some ways she says she was lucky living in a 14-bed private hostel, so she was never alone, but she missed the campus community.

“Everyone was tired from lockdown. There was a tenseness and a sense that life will never be the same. Being a student is a community sharing experience. That’s what a lot of people missed because we weren’t meeting up in class.

“The main thing is for a student to never feel alone, because you can feel powerless.”

Garcia satisfied her natural curiosity for meeting new people by connecting with two new people every day. She made connections with journalists and ended up landing an internship at the Waikato Times.

“I had to push myself, it was hard but being confined was motivating. If you are willing to reach out you will connect with people. Wintec has also helped me make connections.”

She loves Hamilton.

“I have lived in big cities like Manila and Sydney and I have travelled, but I love Hamilton. I like knowing who my bus driver is every morning. Everything is close. As a person, I don’t need much, and everything is here.”

She adds there’s less anonymity and a sense of community.

“I believe it is because people have a reason to be here, so they have made a choice. If you’ve all made that choice, you can guarantee a lifestyle.”

Garcia says this year has been “100 percent, a positive experience” and she hasn’t felt anonymous at all.

“Education is about your development as a person, it’s more than your brain.”

Road marker workers are next on the list for the Unsung Aotearoa project.

“I am a road trip person,” adds Garcia, who won’t be travelling the mighty Waikato on her own to meet her next subjects, because chances are, she will know her bus driver.

“I want to be always talking to people, and writing.”

Find out more about studying a Bachelor of Communication at Wintec School of Media Arts.

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