Florida Street Cleaners and Learning the Job

After a long conversation with a friend of mine, I was convinced to go to Mission Local to become an intern. Never had I been an intern before, nor had I done something related to journalism, which would explain why I was so hesitant to go. However, the events that followed were completely out of my expectations.

After arriving at Mission Local, I met Andrea Valencia, a translator and interpreter. My friend and Andrea were going that day to a wash and fold dry cleaning store to request permission to film a video of the place, Florida Cleaners on 1301 Florida St. They had been robbed some time before.

As it was my first day at Mission Local and I was unsure of what to do, I decided it was best to go there as well. Then, while walking to the dry cleaning store, I started taking photos of the Mission, following Andrea’s suggestion and using the camera she took the time to teach me how to use.

Even though I say “taking photos,” I actually mean fiddling with a type of camera I would have never dreamed of touching. Of course, Andrea taught me the basics and I did my best to understand, but my efforts took time to bear fruit. After many pictures and setting changes, we finally reached the place. It had taken me quite a while, but I had finally understood how to zoom and focus. To be honest, that was a triumph.

After getting to the store, my friend started to talk with the store’s manager in Cantonese, and asked if we could take a video of the place narrating their history in the Mission to upload as a story on Mission Local. Even though I don’t speak Chinese, I could clearly tell how persuasive she was trying to be, and how much her words had an effect on the store’s manager. In the end, the manager agreed to talk to her husband. After being rejected before, I’m sure this was quite a bit of progress.

On the way back, I kept taking pictures, mostly of anything, as I tried to learn as much as I could from the camera. I was happily surprised to hear that some of the photos were worthy enough to be uploaded and, that if I wanted, I could write a story or description about them. This is when it hit me. After 18 years of going with the flow, and doing things at someone else’s pace, I had finally come to a place where something was interesting. A place where I could do what I really want to do even now: writing.

This, put together with photography make for a perfect opportunity at practicing what my dream career is: to write novels. I knew that writing about images that I produced and finding sense in these images is a way to improve my writing.

The photos I had taken and the paragraphs I wrote could be improved, but I’m determined to fill this gap with both experience and effort. For the first time in so many years, I was finally interested by something and I knew that I wanted to keep coming here and to learn as much as I can to become better.

Mario Chávez is an intern from San Francisco International High School for immigrant students. 

Filed under: Mobile, SNAPS, Today's Mission

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One Comment

  1. Puja

    Mario, I can’t wait to read your novels!

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