I have been writing for The Huffington Post since 2011. (I remember writing about taking the SHSAT NYC specialized public school test) and the strange stories that came with it. I described how it felt to take a high school test for the first time and all the preparations that came with it. I also remember describing the anomalous October snowstorm that also occurred the same day. What I particularly remember was the feeling of success when I saw that article on the brand new Huff Post Teen page, with my name and picture next to it. It was a fantastic feeling, may I add, to know that I had written something that my audience, who were most likely teens like me, would find informative and interesting. I had gotten all sorts of comments telling me that I had explained the experience in a descriptive, yet detailed manner. Comments like that are what inspired me to continue to write for Huff Post Teen. I began to write about all sorts of topics, ranging from the possibility of a space elevator to how hard it is to pay attention in today's world. I felt that I had the power to say what I think in such a way that anyone who wants to listen will, and those who don't want to don't need to.
One thing I seem to have forgotten is that The Huffington Post is not some private corner of the internet. In fact, it's quite loud and makes itself very well known and heard. As I said before, I assumed that my audience was mostly American teenagers going through high school just like me. I never took a second to fathom that an individual in another country could be reading my work and even consider it for publishing. Here is where the fun part of my story begins.
One day I was making some Lipton tea in my school's cafeteria during a free period, and my dean walked up to me. I was a little worried because when your dean walks up to you, they usually have a reason and it's not great most of the time. My heart then plummeted when I heard her say in a firm voice, "So I sent you an email." My heart skipped a beat. I whipped my phone out with lightning speed, and went straight into my email. I proceeded to read a forwarded email from my dean. It was about a German publishing company called Klett and how they would like to use one of my Huffington Post blogs for a German-to-English textbook. I slowly put my phone down, trying to figure out if that meant what I think it does. I look at my dean, only to be greeting with a big toothy smile, which I then reciprocated.
I went home that day ecstatic and my parents and I scrambled to a computer to respond to them. I wanted to give them permission immediately, but realized that there was only one issue that we had to be careful about. There was a tiny, almost insignificant possibility that the publishers could want to use the blog as a "how to not write a paragraph in English," but I sincerely doubted it. After sending an email saying how amazing this is and asking what blog they would like to use, they replied saying it's my blog called "How Hard Is It to Pay Attention?" (The blog is about how difficult it is to not be distracted with all the forms of communication and social media that exist today.) They even sent me the format in which it would appear in the textbook with accompanying questions.
After the dust settled a little, I took a moment to try to understand how this happened. How I, a blogger for HuffPost Teen, got picked to have a blog post even considered publishable, let alone in a language textbook which focuses on correct grammar and the fluidity of writing.
When I began writing for The Huffington Post, I have watched The Huffington Post transform from a liberal source of current events on the Internet to a worldwide platform. I joined the Teen page when it first began, and since then watched The Huffington Post give voices to all those who wouldn't have been able to make themselves known before. They've become a massive source for people everywhere, regardless of creed, sexuality, age or even religion, to come together and voice their opinions without the fear of being censored. They've added editions in France, Spain, Japan, Africa, Korea, India, Brazil and of course Germany. In 2012, The Huffington Post won its first Pulitzer Prize. From this point on, I will always appreciate the ability that The Huffington Post gives to me to be heard and understood not just among my peers, but everyone everywhere. Whenever I publish a new blog post, I'll think of all the people who could be reading it, and how my words can have a real impact around the world.