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Papers' intern says goodbye after a summer full of stories

How do you say goodbye to a place you’ve only begun to know?

I arrived in Forest Grove three months ago, at the end of May, as the Hillsboro Tribune and Forest Grove News-Times’ summer Snowden intern. I’d graduated just weeks prior from George Fox University in Newberg, and I didn’t know anyone in Forest Grove, the community I was supposed to get to know, write about and be absorbed in.

Frankly, I was terrified.

Now, just 12 weeks later, that terror is nearly gone, only reappearing occasionally — like, for example, when I was previewing the Oregon International Air Show in Hillsboro and found myself 3,500 feet in the air, twisting and looping in a tiny acrobatic airplane. For these weeks, I’ve been incredibly fortunate: I’ve had the opportunity to cover some fascinating and, frankly, incredible stories. Besides flying in a tiny plane, I drove a Porsche worth more than my college tuition, saw firsthand the state cornhole championships and met the Arizona Diamondbacks’ first-round draft pick. I’ve had unforgettable experiences.

But so much more valuable than the experiences — even the adrenaline-fueled ones — have been the people. The popular perception of a reporter is someone dry, totally objective, Spock-like — almost not quite human. To be a reporter, though, means telling the truth, and so a reporter has to be human and vivid and alive — truth can only exist meaningfully between people. And despite the brevity of my stay in Forest Grove, I’ve met, interviewed and worked with some of the finest people I know.

I got to write about a two-year-old girl who battled through 10 tumors in her eye. I met a police officer who’s given 40 years of his life to the community. I sat in on dozens of meetings, staffed by citizens dedicated to making a difference, regardless of publicity or fanfare. These were ordinary citizens; these were extraordinary citizens.

And now, I feel I’m just beginning to understand the flow of life here. I’m recognized at the coffee shop. I pass people on the street to whom I can say hello, give a smile. These are important things, and I’m sad to leave just as I’m starting to find them.

But, above all, I’m grateful. I’ve learned an immensity here. I’ve grown as a reporter: the News-Times staff, to the last person, is encouraging and funny and warm. And, however briefly, I’ve gotten to call this place home.

I’ve done my best to do it justice. I covered a few stories while I was here, each to the very best of my ability. But there are so, so many more I won’t get to cover. Believe me, I wish I could.

Thank you to everyone. I’m off to begin graduate school at Oregon State University in Corvallis, but Forest Grove, Cornelius, Hillsboro: I can’t wait to return.

Editor’s Note: Ryan Lackey has been the Hillsboro Tribune and Forest Grove News-Times’ Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism intern this summer. He will be

sorely missed, and we wish him well.