Time for a Change!

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It’s been over a year since I finished my Humphrey. You won’t believe the roller coaster of a journey I’ve had since coming back from my year with the Humphrey Fellowship Program.

For seven years, I thrived as a print journalist, writing a story works effectively for me at that time. But growth rarely happens in comfort zones. As my company pivoted from print to video journalism, I sensed it was time for a change on my end too. Embracing this evolution, I took the lead, becoming the first to transition in our company.

Siqi Yao (right) interviews Kevin Kelly at a studio in Phoenix Weekly newsroom, Beijing, China.

Time for a personal reboot

If someone had told me a year ago that I’d have the guts to be as an interview program host, let alone live broadcasts, I would’ve laughed!

However, I truly became the first journalist in our company to jump from the good old world of print to the dynamic realm of video reporting since this February.  And I didn’t stop there. I did our company’s very first live broadcast on that massive earthquake in Turkey. Stay tuned for that one!  

Currently, I serve as the project leader for our interview program, overseeing many personnel and tasks. While the role brings its fair share of complexities, I’m fully committed and eager to embrace the challenge.

Embracing new challenges has always been rewarding for me. For instance, I anchored a live broadcast in August 2023, I report the intricate web of telecom and internet frauds prevalent in Myanmar. The response is over two million of audience tuned in, setting a record as the most-watched live broadcast in our company’s history till now. In September, I made our first video report about South Korea’s travel visa policies for Chinese folks. I’ve got an interview show with Kevin Kelly, chief editor of Wired magazine and the author of the book “out of control”.

Looking back, I’m pretty sure none of this would’ve happened even remotely possible if I hadn’t embraced all the opportunities and gathered encouragement during my Humphrey year. My deepest gratitude goes out to our ASU team led by Juan, the dedicated professors, fellows, and friends who stood by me throughout Humphrey year.

In September, Beijing US embassy celebrated 45th anniversary of the Humphrey Fellowship Program, I did a speech in the reception. It’s a feeling I’m willing to embrace, as I’m eager to share the profound transformations this program has instilled in me over the past year, the newfound confidence I’ve developed, and the inspiring fellows I’ve had the privilege to meet.

In the past year, I have closely kept in touch with my mentor, global friends, and fellows personally and professionally. I’m keen to further academic endeavors, leveraging my years of professional experience to contribute to scholarly research in journalism and communication.

Humphrey fellows Siqi Yao (right) and Tasneem Amro in Seoul, South Korea.

In April, I had the honor to participate the World Journalists Conference hosted by Journalists Association of Korea in Seoul and visited Busan, Suwon and Gyeonggi-do in South Korea. I could meet my Humphrey cohort Tasneem Amro, Gahyeok Lee, Hyuntaek Lee and Mohamed Asmieu Bah. It was truly inspiring to witness their remarkable achievements firsthand.

Find a pastime that offers solace!

As we all know, life isn’t always filled with positivity; in fact, it often goes the other way. This May, my eyes were diagnosed with a chronic disease, a dark shadow in front of my right eye, manifesting as a persistent shadow before my right eye. This shadow is not just fleeting; it’s a companion that will grow more pronounced with age. I was devastated. At the same time, my income has fluctuated, a consequence of changing into new field at work. I need to handle financial burden. Change brings uncertainty, and facing uncertainty causes anxiety. 

It makes me wonder and doubt myself, If I had become an on-camera reporter at a younger age, I wouldn’t have worried about the growing grey hairs. If I continue in the realm of print journalism might have better aligned with my strengths and better income.

To reconsider my situation, I started walking around the city every day, as a way to release the anxieties. If you like to walk in the crowd, Beijing is a very suitable place, because every night, many people will go out after dinner with their families, walk, run, chat, especially in summer. The city is quite safe, the only concern needs to pay attention is electric motorcycles for your traffic safety. The shops and restaurants on the street usually close late, and looking at the strangers who pass by, it seems that your pains will be forgotten in the crowd. City walking is also very popular among young people in Beijing, they will plan a route and experience the transitions and scenery of the city.

Walking became one of my hobbies, and although it is boring for many people, I began to understand my situation in a positive way. Proper habits can mitigate eye-related issues. Don’t worry how and where you begin, as long as you keep moving, you will arrive far from where you start.

2021-2022 Cronkite Humphrey Fellows: Siqi Yao (top left, clockwise), Milana Mazaeva, Atok Dan, Gahyeok Lee, and Mohamed Asmieu Bah.

Sometimes a change in mindset leads to a bigger change in behavior. Discover a preferred way that uplifts you in tough times, don’t forget this. I am sure I will continue to move forward, there will be many unknowns and challenges, but I aim to embrace every twist and turn with open arms.

About Siqi Yao

Siqi Yao is a journalist for Phoenix Weekly in Beijing covering international affairs. Yao focuses on the Asia Pacific region, shifts in manufacturing, U.S.-China relations and its effects on average citizens. Yao has a master’s degree in art from Hong Kong Baptist University. She has seven years of journalism experience and is dedicated to providing Chinese readers with impartial stories on foreign countries. During her Humphrey year, she hopes to grow both personally and professionally. She plans to refine her English language skills and study communication theory with a focus on biased news on the internet. She also plans to learn about video journalism, American culture and leadership.

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