Hannah Bae, New York
After about five years away from the Asia chapter’s N3Con, I was thrilled to come back for this flagship event and see friends old and new, while also learning insights about the state of the journalism industry in Asia.
My main priority for the conference was to offer my support for the Asia chapter’s mentoring program. I’m one of the co-leads of AAJA National’s Mentor Match program, and we’ve been so proud to see Elaine Ramirez take the initiative to expand the Asia chapter’s participation in mentoring. I came away with excellent guidelines from career coaches Ron Brown and Dominica Lim on establishing a productive mentor-mentee relationship, which I look forward to sharing with U.S.-based members.
Seoul, my home city from 2007-2013, sent a large contingent to N3Con this year (as always!), and I was impressed by the level of leadership that Seoul members showed at the conference.
Some of the best conversations I had during N3Con had to do with stretching our boundaries as storytellers. One of the most impactful presentations of the conference was a screening of Sunshine de Leon’s documentary, “Curiosity, Adventure & Love.” I gathered my own courage to present a (way-too-)personal tale of my own during N3Con’s Story Slam — a first for me in the live storytelling arena.
Courage was the all-important word during Story Slam, which closed out N3Con with a bang. I was blown away by AAJA-Asia President Oanh Ha’s intensely personal story of fleeing Vietnam as a child and making her way as a journalist in the U.S.
When I first attended N3Con, I reconnected with an [AAJA mentor] I had not seen in nearly 10 years.
It was the 2016 [N3Con] in Seoul. I was standing in the lobby of the conference venue, lost in the flurry of activity and anxious for the sessions to start. As I scanned the room for people I knew, I spotted someone familiar. “Angie!” I yelled. I walked over and introduced myself. “Remember me? J Camp 2009.”
She beamed. “Yes, I remember you!” Years ago, Angie Lau was the coordinator of J Camp, AAJA’s high school journalism program. The summer intensive was my first introduction to the profession. I was a high school junior then. Now, more than a decade later, I was reconnecting with her.
Then, I was in my first journalism job out of college — a subeditor at a local English daily in South Korea. The meeting was serendipitous and demonstrated the power of AAJA’s pipeline from cradle to career.
Every year after that, Angie and I would reconnect at N3Con. It is one of my favorite things about the conference. Apart from the insightful panels and practical workshops, the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and hear about what they’re doing makes N3Con very special.