My coldest winter in Philadelphia | OP-ED

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“Why did you choose Philadelphia? “

– I did not do it. Philadelphia chose me.

~ Extract from a television interview circa 1998, public television channel,

Philadelphia Germantown Avenue Studio

How I ended up in Philadelphia is still a bit of a puzzle to me.

One that I am careful not to disentangle, out of respect for a mystique that has been at the center of my life, made up, like all yours, when you think about it, of chains of unexpected events which, with hindsight, take everything its meaning in the end.

When I arrived in Philadelphia in 1991, the city was a remote place to me on the East Coast at the time, a 2-day Greyhound bus ride from Iowa City, where I had graduated from the School. of Journalism from 1991.

It took about a year before I finally dropped out of a doctoral program I claimed to be doing at the University of Iowa, having completed, at age 31, the master’s degree in the profession that I had decided to take at. 16 years old.

A book that I came across, Green and Yellow Covers, published in Spain, I remember, inspired me to escape the path followed by my 2 older brothers, successful engineers with solid jobs in the company.

Bachelor of Arts in Journalism?

“I was effectively unemployed almost 2 years after I officially obtained this undergraduate degree in journalism”

I was effectively unemployed almost 2 years after I officially graduated from this undergraduate degree from the Jorge Tadeo Lozano University from Bogotá, Colombia.

The experience was no different when I got my masters degree from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, here in the United States of America, 10 years later.

I skipped the graduation ceremony in the large auditorium at the University of Iowa.

The signed diplomas, very expensive pieces of paper that I received in the mail in the Iowa experiment, I quickly turned around and threw in the trunk things that were unnecessary but hard to let go that the we wear our whole life.

They are now on display in my office in Philadelphia, where I have finally found a good use for them.

Whenever an attentive apprentice comes to our workshop, I turn to him to give him the first lesson of the trade:

“Look, none of those 2 pieces of paper turned yellow (carefully framed undergraduate and graduate degrees) has ever landed me a job in my entire life.”

“Promote your experience here at AL DIA… .That’s what will count…. Practical experience.”

“Promote your experience here at AL DIA I tell them. “That’s what will count …”

“Yes, at your fingertips, your hands are sore after your long day of daily efforts, your mind tormented by the mistakes made …”

“This is how you really learn: by doing it”, I always say, emphasizing the surprised. AL DÍA apprentices.

Once the overrated academia is over and student debt hangs over your neck, quickly become a “discepolo della sperientia” (disciple of experience), as Leonardo da Vinci wrote about the famous “Self-Portrait”.

What valuable experience can a Master of Arts in Journalism offer you?

I remember only 2 books that I read with interest, and sometimes with pleasure, of the 150 or so assigned to hasty reading and revising in seminars, advanced courses, courses of all kinds, necessary for complete the “credits” for the master’s degree requirement.

The first written by José Ortega and Gasset (“El Hombre Masa”), the second written by John Womack (“The Mexican Revolution”), neither of the two relates directly to journalism.

They were still my company during my first winter of living in Philadelphia, unemployed, with my useless Master of Arts degree neatly stowed away in my Iowa suitcase, with the rent due at the end of the month.

It must have been very cold. Coldest winter – colder than those 3 grueling winters in the freezing, windy Midwest I had just survived in Iowa.


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