I thought I’d slip in a quick post about accomplishing something that I have always wanted to try. Today, I went on Miguel Hermelin’s “Le Club du Midi” program for Radio One in Mauritius. Let me tell you—it was unlike anything I have ever done.
From beginning to end, the whole experience was a rush. We arrived behind schedule in Port Louis and sprinted through the crowded midday streets, squeezing in between veering vehicles and irritated pedestrians. With my 5’1 stature, it was ridiculously difficult to keep up with the much taller Vedant and Kelvin. I felt like I was in some crazy chase scene out of “Mission Impossible” (although I’m happy to say I don’t run as awkwardly as Tom Cruise). After picking through countless street vendors, the Radio One building appeared before us on a beautiful cobblestone street. My voice was about to be broadcast to all of Mauritius—yet, I’ll be honest, all I could think about was getting into the air conditioning.
After speaking with the secretary at the front door, we entered the inner sanctum of the Radio One building. The center console of the broadcasting room was a car wreck of wires, computer screens, and fluffy microphones protruding precariously from the electrical tangle. I stared through the huge window to the street while we wanted for our turn to talk. The soundproofing created an odd sensation: dozens of people went through the emphatic motions of speaking, but the scene was completely devoid of noise. I created conversations as I watched them interact, losing myself completely in the spontaneous scenarios I imagined.
Miguel Hermelin, the host of “Le Club du Midi,” pulled me back to Earth with a charismatic wave. As they positioned me in front of a microphone, I watched Miguel continue to speak. I am so used to focusing on radiocasters’ words that I never stop to consider what they look like when they talk. While I cannot vouch for other casters, I can say that Miguel is every bit as energetic and captivating as his voice suggests. So, there I was, ensnared by the monstrous electrical centerpiece, when a red light appeared on the screen before me. We were on the air. I felt my body instantly jump to high alert, the way it always would before an important debate round in high school. I tried desperately to relax as Miguel introduced us to his audience. He turned and asked me the first question, and those countless hours of speech practice suddenly kicked in (thanks, Mrs. Esslinger, for giving me the tools I needed not to make a fool of myself in front of all of Mauritius!). We chatted about my experience with ELI Africa; I even through in a few French words for good measure! When the red light switched off, I could not believe that it was over so quickly. We shook hands with Miguel, thanked his staff for their help, and entered back into the stream of traffic in Port Louis.
Talking on the radio reminded me why I decided to teach journalism here in the first place. Having a voice is a powerful thing but, as Uncle Ben said, “with great power comes great responsibility.” I believe in teaching children how to use their powerful voices to make positive, meaningful change in the world. For just a few minutes, my words reached thousands of people around the island; I hope that my students all have the opportunity to someday know what that feels like.