I was in Soda, a small village near Jaipur, Rajasthan completing my internship with Asmat in June 2016. It was at the end of my first week there that I received an email from YKA, which was usual since I was a regular reader. The email looked like any other, it read ‘Opportunity Alert’ in the subject, and was a call for applications for YKA’s Campus Watch section. I made a mental note of applying once I was back home.
My association with YKA had started back in 2014 when I joined as an intern as a first-year ‘enthu-cutlet’. Throughout my time as a journalism student, YKA remained my source of learning, the practical side of everything theory I learned in class. So when it was the beginning of the third year, and I wasn’t exactly ready to leave the comforts of college life, I was just looking for another reason to stick around and keep writing for YKA, and the email couldn’t have come at a better time. However, at the time, I was unaware that this email would lead to one of the most cherished experiences of my college life.
Hence, when I received a phone call from Rohan telling me that I have been shortlisted as one of the student editors – I did not have to think twice before taking up the opportunity. I vividly remember our first meeting at Epicuria, Nehru Place where Azra and I sat across the table from Rohan, listening to him about the idea and the vision for Campus Watch in the next year. Even though we weren’t facing each other, I could sense that Azra was as confused and nervous as I was. Amrita joined the team about a week later, and that’s when Campus Watch really started taking shape.
For the next few months, the three of us attended workshops at the YKA office and received guidance from Anshul, Anugraha and Rohan. The best part, however, was knowing that Campus Watch was a space for students, it was a space for us and we had the opportunity to build it. The whole process was very similar to trying a new ride at the amusement park – you know want to try it, but you are extremely scared as to what could happen.
Of course, there were times when the work got challenging – for example, it became increasingly difficult to manage the number of stories we were receiving during the Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University elections in 2016. The elections happened in the same month, and there was always a lot to do – especially when we had to manage six hours of college, and two hours of travelling every day. I remember staying up till 4 am listening to the speeches at JNU, editing between classes during college, and being constantly scolded by my friends for always having work to do.
I used to feel guilty at first, especially when I felt like I wasn’t giving my friends enough time – but I gradually realised that this was part of the challenge. I was learning how to balance work and life at the age of 19, and that is one of the many lessons I have learned as the Community Editor for Campus Watch. In addition, there were the fun parts of the job. One of my favourite moments from the year was the Pinjra Tod night march at Lady Shri Ram College which we covered. We stayed out until late in the night, covered an important protest march, which was also a personally liberating experience while at the same time learning video and camera skills. Talk about combining learning with fun, huh?
There was also the press passes to college fests and backstage access during Converge where Amrita and I made a complete fool of ourselves with our fan-girl behaviour towards Tanmay Bhat. But most importantly, I think the reason why I enjoyed being Community Editor was because I was constantly surrounded by a wonderful team. The three of us – Azra, Amrita and I – complemented each other’s personalities and working style well, and till today, we share an understanding that is irreplaceable. Together, we saw the platform grow, overcome challenges and face new ones, and it’s a journey I would happily undertake once again if I had the chance to.
I always seek motivation from the people I work with, and undoubtedly the Campus Watch/YKA team is the best team that I have ever worked with. I look up to both Azra and Amrita in ways I can hardly describe, and I often recall Rohan’s valuable lessons about journalism and life in general, that he’d casually pass on during our meetings. I am extremely grateful, to the entire YKA Team – Anshul, Anugraha, Lipi, Sourodipto, Shambhavi and everyone else who put their faith in us for doing something that I personally thought I never could. My experience with YKA, specifically Campus Watch is a major part of why I have faith in the media industry, and why I want to be a journalist – and that will always ensure that it has a special place in my heart.