A reflection on new beginnings: Two new Weekender staff members discuss their hopes as writers

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Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


Ru-Ping Chen and Saffron Sener, new hires to the Daily Cal’s Weekender department, engage in friendly discourse in an attempt to illuminate what the Weekender is about. They discuss topics including their reasoning for joining the Weekender, the kind of writing styles they want to pursue and their hopes for their futures. A constructive conversation ensues.

Saffron Sener: Do you want to just start off with, like, basic personal information in terms of, like, we are …

Ru-Ping Chen: I’m a junior stats major. I’m from SoCal. This is my first time at the Daily Cal and the Weekender.

SS: I’m a freshman. It’s my first time at the Daily Cal and the Weekender, too. I’m undeclared right now.

RC: So why did you join (the Weekender)?

SS: So, I joined because — well, I knew I wanted to join the newspaper. I see myself as being a journalist in the future, and they don’t have a journalism major here. … They only have a minor, and it’s offered during the summer. … But, anyway, I did newspaper in high school for four years, and I was editor in chief my senior year. That was the year that I realized … that I really like journalism. … I knew I wanted to join the Daily Cal. … I was looking into the Weekender, and I saw that it gave you a lot of freedom. It allowed you to go do things like the news writers and what the (arts and entertainment) writers were doing but bring it (to) Berkeley and social and political movements that are happening, and localize it and be able to say what you want to say about it. That was what brought me in. I was like, “This is what I want to do.”

RC: My reason for joining was, when I came into college, I wanted to focus on furthering my career. Given my major, that would probably be something in finance or tech, which is fine, but I sort of realized that the only thing that kept me grounded in high school (was) journalism. … Freshman year, actually, I applied to the Daily Cal as an opinion columnist, and I didn’t get in. … So then, I wasn’t writing anymore. I didn’t realize how much writing had done for me in terms of emotional stability. I lost my foundation, so then, come junior year, I needed something to keep me grounded. I was doing ballroom dancing …

SS: Oh, that’s so cool!

RC: Yeah! It is — especially my freshman and sophomore years, I really, really enjoyed it. Towards the end of the first semester of sophomore year and the second semester, I just wasn’t having fun anymore, so I joined (the Weekender). And I also saw that (the Weekender had) creative writing, (which really) speaks to my soul.

SS: Why do you think the Weekender is important? … For me, I think the Weekender is the part that gives people a voice. And I know that that can be argued for any department … but I just think that the Weekender kind of combines all of those departments into a really cool — just, it opens it up. It really gives you a lot of freedom to really just say what you want to say. And I know that I haven’t actually written anything for it, but from what I’ve read and what I’ve perceived from the fact that you can write creatively or you can write commentary or you can write features, it lets you take all the cool parts of the other departments and combine them into this really open and important entity (that) lets you speak your mind. It kind of gives you a voice. You can take things that are happening around you and you can comment on them — things that would otherwise go unsaid.

RC: I want to develop my writing style. (I want to learn) to make people laugh … not like I’m making a joke, but through … by being sarcastic.

SS: Yeah, like being witty.

RC: The thing is, Jane Austen speaks to my soul. … So, her style of writing is super sarcastic, and she’s jabbing at these social norms, and she’s so witty. Reading that as a kid, I wanted to be like that. She’s influenced my writing so much.

SS: That’s really cool. For me, it’s just a matter of finding my place. Because I want to do journalism as like a career, I wanna make sure that I really dedicate myself and find my way in the Daily Cal, in terms of journalism.

RC: Props to you.

SS: What do you want to do, in terms of your career?

RC: When I came in, I didn’t know completely. … I guess the dream would be finding some intersection between my major and creative writing, which, to me right now, there is no intersection between them.

SS: But you’ve gotta be the person that finds it! You’ve got to be the innovator.

RC: Yeah, for a very long time the plan was, “Okay, I’ll do something that I can handle, nothing I’m super passionate about, and save a ton of money and open a bookstore or something and do whatever I want.” That was the dream. But now … I just want to do what I like.

SS: Yeah, what you’re passionate about. … I believe in you. I think you’ll find your path where you combine the two things for yourself. Oh, what are you excited for in terms of being in the Weekender?

RC: Just meeting like-minded people. I mean, we’re all artistically inclined — we joined the Weekender! … Most of the people that I’ve been surrounded by have been very tech-oriented. I’ve been cut off (from the arts).

SS: I’m the same way. I’m really excited to meet new people that are interested in the same things. Like you said, I’m really excited to have discussions and talk about things I’m interested in. Because when you come to Berkeley, one of the expectations you have is to have discussions about what’s going on in the world. … I think the Weekender is really cool because I think it really represents the essence of Berkeley because it’s very activist. There was an article I read about someone who’s on death row, and there was an article about Antifa.

RC: Yeah, I’m excited because I think being at the Weekender will really open my mind.

SS: Yeah, I think it will be eye-opening, (and we’ll) get to see new perspectives and interests.

Contact Ru-Ping Chen at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @roxychen_56.

Contact Saffron Sener at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @saffronsener.