Sarah Asch, right, interviews Debora Perkins, the teacher in charge of the Public Safety and Criminal Justice program at Stafford Technical Center, outside the Rutland City Fire Department earlier this year.

I worked as an intern in the Rutland Herald newsroom this summer, and the experience was an excellent crash course in local journalism.

This was my first time writing for a daily newspaper, and I learned how to cover new things, including the criminal justice system. I was also given the freedom to dive into feature stories, which is perhaps my favorite kind of writing. Throughout the summer, I was guided in my work by a team of dedicated reporters and editors, the very people that make the Herald tick and keep this community informed. I am incredibly grateful for their patience and assistance.

More important than the personal growth I experienced this summer, I had the chance to explore new parts of Vermont. As a Middlebury College student, I had never spent a summer here before, and now I know why it was on my bucket list. After hiking the five tallest mountains in the state, I can say without a doubt that there are more shades of green in the landscape here than I have ever seen in my life.

In the course of my reporting, I also got to know Rutland in a new and deeper way. I had never spent much time here before I started this job, and all I had really heard about the area was what people had told me. I was well aware of the stereotypes about Rutland, which in my experience are pervasive both here and in the rest of the state.

However, from my first day of work, I did not see the struggling community I was told to expect. Instead, I found a place full of passionate people who, for the most part, were more than happy to tell me about what they love and why they love it. I have written about local businesses, agriculture, schools, politics and activism. I have connected with local leaders, teachers, artists and those whose strength in the face of adversity inspired me on my worst days.

I have come to disregard the ultimately classist assumptions about Rutland that naysayers warned me about. I am very glad I had the chance to explore this community in my capacity as a reporter. It’s always good to be reminded that no community is just one thing.

I wrote almost 50 stories for the Herald this summer, but I think I am proudest of the feature I wrote about the local LGBTQ community. I spent almost a month working on that piece, and it was an absolute joy to write. To me, that story exemplifies why I love the news. I believe journalism should lend voice to the voiceless and give a platform to members of our society who have been marginalized and ignored. I hope I was able to achieve that with this story. I hope people read it and felt seen.

I have been humbled by the stories that people have shared with me and trusted me to tell this summer — stories about love, loss and trying new things. Stories about the very best and worst of what we as human beings have to offer the world.

I hope I did these stories justice. Writing them has been an honor. Although my time at the Herald is at an end, I hope I will get the chance to continue writing about Vermont in all its wonderful complexity. Please know I will take what I have learned with me, and I cannot thank you enough for all you have taught me.

Sarah Asch is a student at Middlebury College who spent her summer as an intern in the Rutland Herald newsroom.


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