San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
En paz descanse

Dear Jonathan Harris: How The Tico Times shaped my life

It’s August 2014: I’m two months out of high school, only 18 years old, with no idea of what I want to study and what I’ll do for the rest of my life. I learn through family members that you are the owner of a Costa Rican newspaper called The Tico Times. I’ve always been interested in journalism, and my aunt has constantly encouraged me to study it, but I’m not quite convinced. I decide to give it a try.

I go to The Tico Times’ offices in Barrio Amón to an interview with Editor-in-Chief David Boddiger. To be honest, I’m quite nervous, but I get the feeling this will be an adventure. Mr. Boddiger assigns me to  journalist Fabiola Pomareda as my mentor. I tag along with her to the Supreme Elections Tribunal to cover a march held by transsexuals who were claiming their right to have the name they identify with put on their identification cards. People inside the building were staring at them and their peaceful protest.

A few months later, for some strange and exciting reason, my first article is published on the date of my 19th birthday. It’s a double celebration for me that I’ll remember in the coming years.

                                                                               ***

These memories from three years ago were only the beginning of a journey I began without knowing what I was getting into, something much more bigger than I ever imagined. Jonathan: it all started with your simple gesture of providing me a job and an opportunity that exceeded all my expectations.

You gave me a chance when all I had on my CV was high school, when I had no previous knowledge related to journalism. You gave me a job when I knew nothing at all, and trusted in what I was capable of becoming.

That trust and belief towards my work transferred unconsciously to my interviews. When someone strongly believes in your work, whether it is the owner of the business or your direct boss, the job is easier to do, and you enjoy all its natural process in an inconceivable way.

You also gave me the best boss who anyone can ask for. You gave me the great fortune to work alongside Katherine, who is a master in so many ways. She became a mentor, a teacher, and a friend with whom you’re always in constant learning.

That continual education is an important aspect of my journey through The Tico Times. Due to this hunger for learning and curiosity about what others think and why they do the things that makes them feel alive, I made the decision after an year of working with The Tico Times to start studying journalism.

You allowed me the opportunity that made me realize I had a hidden passion I did not know about. You made me realize that people always have a story to tell, and that there’s always a reason why they decide to choose a certain path to live their lives according to their principles and values.

After these realizations, I understood that my mission in life is to sit down and speak with people of all sorts. To sit down and really listen to what they have to say and contribute to society, no matter what their socioeconomic background, country, family, school, university, company or community. I understood everyone has this unique individual power that contributes to society as a whole.

I wouldn’t have understood that if I hadn’t joined The Tico Times family, because in the end, that’s what we are. The Tico Times is not only a newspaper whose journalistic work is incredibly important in our country. It’s also a family, and everyone who was part of it had an essential role.

Thank you for making me part of a place in which learning became a habit and listening was the key to empowering others. Thank you for allowing me to have a dream job in which I’ve had the great fortune of speaking with world leaders, community activists, artists, musicians, photographers, actors, designers, educators, psychologists, sociologists, political figures, immigrants, architects, entrepreneurs, children, parents, and so much more.

Thank you for allowing me to understand and perceive life in a whole new way.

Thank you also for giving me the possibility of building great friendships through a job that became a lifestyle.

                                                                              ***

I’m now 21 years old, and life has changed quite a lot during these past three years. I’m sitting down to write a remembrance of you, perhaps the most difficult text that I’ll have to pen. Undeniably you’ll be missed here. Just as The Flatliners’ Eulogy song says: “You will always be remembered. You will be celebrated. You will never be forgotten.” Words aren’t enough to express my eternal gratitude. May you rest in peace and your legacy live forever.

Death always forces us to reflect upon life, what we love and whom we love. As I recall from one of my favorite interviews from last year: “Death makes you act.” Right now, for me, that act is writing this letter that you’ll never read, which encourages me even more to continue with this journalistic adventure in honor of you. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Lang

 

Contact Elizabeth Lang at elang@ticotimes.net

Comments are closed.