BLOG: My summer internship ‘travel writing’ in Fort Wayne

Flashback five years ago. Sixteen-year-old me sat watching a movie, with no expectations, just a normal Sunday night. I sat cuddled up on the couch, my eyes glued to the television set as I popped popcorn in my mouth methodically. Tonight’s pick was The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

I was at the stage in your life where you’re supposed to start figuring out who you want to be. It’s a constant pressure, yet no mathematical equation can solve the answer to guarantee your happiness 20 years down the line. Naturally, I inserted the movie to give my brain a break, but it did just the opposite. Lauren Wong

Walter Mitty, the main character, works at Life magazine, but spends his days dreaming about the life he wishes he had the courage to live. It wasn’t until something goes wrong that he jumps on a plane in search of fixing a work mistake that he discovers what it means to be alive. His journey takes him to Iceland.

Sitting on my couch, watching the clouds reach down to the earth, engulfing everything in a mysterious eerie, vastness that makes up this beautiful country, I knew in that moment that whatever I was going to do, travel was going to be a part of it.

Thus, began my constant outward grasp for something more.

I am going to be a senior this fall at the University of Tampa, originally from the Chicagoland area. I’m majoring in Journalism, with a minor in photography and graphic design, all tied together with a Certificate in International Studies.

Come graduation, I see myself traveling the world—just me, my camera, and my eyes open for any story that comes my way. I want to share other ways of life through words and photographs to show people there’s so much more out there than the little bubbles we confine ourselves in.

Along with writing, Wong also does photography.

For this summer, I’m putting my ideas to test by “travel writing” in northeast Indiana, interning for Input Fort Wayne, and jotting down anything that catches my eye in my little blue notebook. As you might guess, Fort Wayne isn’t one of the top destination spots in the U.S., or a place people typically dream about when they think of “world travel,” but still, something here catches my eyes. It’s the spirit of those who live in this city.

Today, it’s dreary, cold, and gray outside, but as I’m driving down Jefferson Boulevard on my way into downtown, the houses of West Central Neighborhood that line the streets bring me back in time.

Colorful homes at 1009-1013 W Jefferson Blvd. on the Historic West Central tour.

The rustic brick and wood, crumbling ever so slightly, shows the wear and age of this city and brings some sense of peace with it. The deterioration of the houses stands proud, almost as if showing all the love it’s supported for decades, as the skyline expands with new construction.

The houses are bright pinks, golden yellows, florescent blues, lilac purples; everything stands out on this sluggish day. With no particular destination in mind, I park and wander, finding myself in what appears to be the center for arts.

A dad and his daughter ride by on their bicycles just as I sit down on one of the park benches. Shrieking with laughter the little girl rides away, leaving her dad in the dust, before turning around one last time and sending a final giggle his way before disappearing around the street corner.

Fort Wayne's active transportation network has 10 miles of bike lanes.

Three girls are setting up for what looks like some sort of show with lights, music, and a tarped black stage taped to the cement. I figured they were a band, so I went up to ask them if they were performing. It turns out, it’s a ballet show, and they’re just setting up. The Fort Wayne Ballet, from the Auer Academy is going to be putting on a free show later that night for the public.

“There’s always something going on in Fort Wayne,” the head of the event crew tells me as she’s untangling the cord from her speaker.

I believe that, and as my goal for my summer internship, I want to find out what’s happening here, and explore the hidden gems waiting to be discovered around every corner in Fort Wayne.

Lauren Wong is spending the summer of 2019 exploring northeast Indiana as Input Fort Wayne’s summer intern. Stay tuned for a series of six bi-weekly blogs chronicling her adventures.

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