Voracious, bulldog, hungry – those were words my editor Joseph B. Treaster at the Knight Center for International Media said needed to describe me if I truly wanted to be a journalist. He reported for over 30 years at the New York Times, which makes those adjectives perfect to describe his professional style.
I learned quite a bit from him about being persistent and speedy. It came in handy as I worked as his Associate Editor on 1H2O.org, an online magazine about the worldwide water crisis. Part of my job was to edit and gather content as well as work with freelance journalists around the world reporting from their respective hometowns, such as Marko Phiri in Zimbabwe and Ada M. Alvarez in Argentina.
And because the journalism job market in Miami was tough, I decided to apply some of my newfound voracity in learning and practicing web development skills. So not only did I maintain 1H2O.org, but I also had the opportunity to develop the design and structure for the following two websites.
Knight.miami.edu – The Knight Center for International Media focused on stories for positive change in communities around the world.
Aguasnegras.glocalstories.org – Aguas Negras or “Black Waters” is the term used for the polluted water source for Mexico City and surrounding farmlands. Photojournalist Janet Jarman investigates how this environmental issue affects the locals and their businesses.
The movement behind the DREAM Act gives many young people hope that one day they will have a chance to come out of the shadows. They hope to contribute to American society as well as receive the full freedom that comes with being a citizen. Because my parents are immigrants themselves and so many of my friends are as well, immigration became the theme for my thesis project in the University of Miami’s Multimedia Journalism Master’s Program.
As a kid, I used to hate doing house chores like cleaning up my room and would usually try to whine my way out of it. My father would tell me (in Portuguese), “Oh you don’t want to? Then get an education and work hard, then you can hire a maid. But until then, go clean your room.”
My parents, who arrived in Miami from Brazil in the 1980’s, taught me that we were here because our dreams could come true. And for a while, I really believed hard work was all it took until I got to college. That’s when I realized many of my friends couldn’t register for school or apply for financial aid or even just get a driver’s license.
So I produced a three-part video series published on Vimeo that looks into what the DREAM Act is and how it could change lives.
Only the DREAM Act can restore hope for undocumented youth: An interview with Immigration Lawyer Tristan Bourgoignie
Walyce’s Final Project on Undocumented College Students – Part One from Walyce Almeida on Vimeo.
Achieving a higher education against all odds: Young, Peruvian Jimena Alvarado struggles to attend and pay for college because of her status
Walyce’s Final Project on Undocumented College Students – Part Two from Walyce Almeida on Vimeo.
How colleges and the US would benefit from the DREAM Act
Walyce’s Final Project on Undocumented College Students – Part Three from Walyce Almeida on Vimeo.
Photo by Brian Schlansky
Blue crabs, fish, and some other sea creatures creep me out a little bit. It’s something about their cold, slimy, expressionlessness that makes no distinction between them being dead or alive… until one moves.
For one undergraduate project called The Fish at Bay, classmate Brian Schlansky and I got to join a family that owns a fresh seafood market on a short boat ride to catch some blue crabs. When those little guys got to escape the box in which they were poured, they chased you around the boat.
Brian and I produced a video and I wrote an in-depth article on the different kinds of businesses in South Florida that depend on a plentiful, local fish population.
It was one of out five stories that a class of students put together. And it was so much fun to work on, not just for our adventure into Biscayne Bay but also because I got to taste so much amazing seafood. Sorry blue crab, but I prefer you cooked.
Fish Dependency: How South Florida Businesses Rely on the Resource from Walyce Almeida on Vimeo.
Most students go into the workforce right after getting a bachelor’s degree. When I was done, all the rapid changes were occurring in journalism such as shifting business models, replacing old reporters with multi-tasking ones, integrating social media in news, and so on.
With no professional experience and just a degree, I knew I had little chances of landing a decent job in journalism. So I went back to school. The University of Miami had just launched its multimedia journalism master’s program. Perfect timing!
During my undergrad years, I started to dabble in coding and web design, which I did every now and then during grad school as well. At one point, my classmate and friend, Andrea Ballocchi, started working with UM’s Director of the Arnold Center for Confluent Media Studies, Ali Habashi.
Ali gave us one simple site to make for a student organization. Then his fiance asked if we could do a portfolio site for her. That turned out to be fun because she’s a classical pianist. Check her out!
So here are the projects:
Marina Radiushina – an international classical pianist
Engineers without Borders – a student organization at the University of Miami
As part of an internship at The Miami Herald, my beat for an entire year was to cover a small town south of Homestead called Florida City. Every other week, I would go to the city council meetings to find issues worth reporting. And in between, I wrote features.
Because it was a small town, I started to feel a part of it. Mayor Otis T. Wallace, who had been the mayor for almost two decades, and the other council members were very sweet with me and always willing to provide information and answer my questions. I even bumped into my elementary school principal – a local and friend of the mayor. Small world!
So it became pretty interesting to learn the ins and outs of Florida City’s administration and to see it grow in ways outsiders wouldn’t expect.
My biggest story on this town turned up on the business section’s front page for the Herald. (But read it on this blog that picked up the story.) A colleague told me it took her five years to accomplish the same thing. You might expect me to boast at this point, but instead I’d like to thank my editor at the time, Donna Gehrke-White, for mentoring me. She was very hands-on and taught me how to write a decent news story.
Thank you Donna!
Photo from Paula Sampaio’s book ‘Antônios e Cândidas Têm Sonhos de Sorte’
After transferring from Miami Dade College to the University of Miami, I was so excited for what I would get to do in the journalism program. And as luck would have it, my new advisor recommended me for a project that couldn’t have been more perfect.
I had the opportunity to translate Photojournalist Paula Sampaio’s book Antônios e Cândidas Têm Sonhos de Sorte (Antonios and Candidas Dream of Luck) from Portuguese to English for an online multimedia project called Roads of Dreams.
Sampaio traveled on two roads that cross the Amazon collecting stories from families that ended up there because the Brazilian government had promised them a future. But after the government cut funding to infrastructure and transportation works in the area, most of those families were stuck – not having enough resources or opportunities to go elsewhere neither to grow where they currently were.
One of the stories that touched me was of a teenage boy working on a farm whose only dream was to learn how to read. Most likely his father was promised a construction job. Without one, the boy had to step up and help sustain the family. And there aren’t many academic institutions around.
Unfortunately, the website for the project has been lost, but I still have a photo Paula gave me as a gift. In the photo, there is a picture of two female toddlers walking toward their cabin-like home on stilts. You can tell it’s surrounded by forest. And to the left of the wooden home, there is a large satellite suggesting the family that lives there has a TV.
Special Note: The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication awarded Roads of Dreams first place in the category of Creative Sites. My professor Kim Grinfeder led the project and had the help of student Kathryn Bain.
Brazilian Photojournalist Paula Sampaio documented the lives of various families living in the Amazon.
Kashmir Reflections – a collection of multimedia stories about the region of Kashmir. Produced by Ami Vitale, Nick Maslow, and Walyce Almeida.
Kashmir, for those who don’t know, is a region disputed by India, Pakistan, and China. It’s diverse in culture, religion, and so on. But I knew absolutely nothing about this area until in grad school I worked on a project about Kashmir.
Two of my classmates, Ami Vitale (National Geographic photographer) and Nick Maslow (freelance multimedia journalist), and I teamed up for a grad school class project at the University of Miami – tell a story through multimedia and publish it online.
We decided to “create a unique collection of stories through which people could grasp both the beauty of Kashmir and the consequences of the ongoing conflict there.” The project is called Kashmir Reflections. We wanted the stories to come from natives and people who have experienced Kashmir over a long period of time. It was our philosophy that no one can better tell the story neither tell it with all the sensibilities of someone who feels the emotional, personal impact from an international political struggle.
If I remember correctly, we got an A!
So take a look and feel free to share your thoughts – Kashmir Reflections.