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Column: Until next time, Worthington

Wednesday will be my last day at The Globe, ending an amazing two years of my life that I'll never forget. Starting Oct. 9, I will begin work as the money-in-politics reporter for the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, D.C. Its website...

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Wednesday will be my last day at The Globe, ending an amazing two years of my life that I’ll never forget.

Starting Oct. 9, I will begin work as the money-in-politics reporter for the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, D.C. Its website, opensecrets.org, is a leading resource for information and news on campaign finance and dark money in federal elections.

It’s a big opportunity for me, just like The Globe was two years ago.

In August 2016, when I bought a one-way plane ticket from Brooklyn, N.Y. to Minnesota, I didn’t even know if journalism was the right career for me. I didn’t know anything about my coworkers and I definitely didn’t know anything about the small town of Worthington.

But here in the unbelievably-flat Nobles County, I was embraced by an amazing group of coworkers. I was blown away not only by the intense wind, but by the unyielding enthusiasm so many Worthington residents have for their community. And much to my relief, I found that I do have a passion for journalism.

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I don’t know if I would have come to that conclusion if not for Ryan McGaughey, perhaps the most supportive newspaper editor in the industry.

Or Martina Baca, my fellow reporter when I started, for not only being my closest friend, but also for pushing me to improve. Or veteran reporter Julie Buntjer, for being an amazing mentor and consistently laughing at my silly jokes.

I’ll miss all of them - everyone at The Globe. I’ll miss hearing from Alyssa Sobotka, especially about her wild stories from the crime and courts beat. I’ll miss talking about terrible Detroit sports teams and Mike Trout with Doug Wolter. I’ll miss Tim and Susan Middagh and Chris Reetz, all of whom somehow managed to adopt me as their son during my time here.

If I were to go down the list and name everyone I’m going to miss, I’d run out of room. That extends to many, many people outside of The Globe, too. Those who befriended and supported me from the beginning, and those who helped me out when I needed a hand … you know who you are!

I’m going to miss reporting on such a large variety of subjects. Although it requires a lot of learning and trial-by-fire, that variety is probably the most fun aspect of being a news reporter.

I never thought I’d be reporting on things like turkey races, water pipelines and farming. But there I was, driving down a dirt road onto a family farm, only to get smothered by overly-excited dogs.

I was struck by the kindness and generosity of so many people in town. When I went out to the Lao Temple for a short interview last winter, I turned too early, sending my car into a snow-filled ditch.

While my friend Bounlorm Soumetho went to get a cable from his house to tow me out, I had lunch with members of the temple, chatting about several different topics - including how silly my car looked lodged deep in the snow - while eating sticky rice, beef and fried bugs.

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This kind of thing happened all the time. The kindness and generosity part, that is … not the crashing.

Slowly but surely, I became passionate about Worthington, even if my goal was never to stay long-term. I was upset when the movie theater project fell through. I was thrilled when the microbrewery was confirmed to be on its way. I was filled with sadness when Worthington experienced a string of deaths of well-liked community members, even though I never met them.

I recall being surprised at just how shocked everyone was to learn that I had moved to Worthington from Brooklyn.

‘Why would you do that?’ was the most popular response, just behind ‘How did that happen?’

There seems to be a stark divide in Worthington between people who hate it here and love it here. As someone who lived in a neighborhood six times larger than Worthington, I have to say I enjoyed my time here.

Many people my age take Worthington’s advantages for granted. I keep in touch with my friends in New York City and frankly, they’re struggling. They’re all educated, college graduates, but many are dealing with extremely high rent, crushing student loan debt and wages that aren’t close to enough.

But in Worthington, I have friends with little or no college education who are making a living, who own their own homes, who don’t live paycheck to paycheck. Isn’t that worth something?

I say this as I’m about to move to a place where I will be paying ridiculous rent, but seriously, coming out to rural Minnesota has been enlightening. I’ve heard so many new perspectives and learned from so many unique experiences and personalities. That, I’m especially thankful for.

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As I venture into the depths of D.C. and national politics, I won't forget what I learned here. I’m super excited to become a regular reader of The Globe and see just how much this city grows.

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