Work Experience 17: Bec #2
Shortly before I started my work experience jobs earlier this year, I caught up with a few friends to talk about my 40 40 adventure and ask whether they thought I might be able to do work experience with them. One lovely lady suggested I get in touch with Rebecca Sparrow – Brisbane author, columnist, speaker, podcast host and long-time friend of hers. When I googled Bec, I discovered that she has a particular passion for helping girls (and their parents) to navigate the tricky teen years. As well as writing books on the topic, she also speaks to students at high schools about staying safe online, developing and maintaining friendships, building self-confidence and being resilient. One of her main messages to teens is to Be Kind, a message I’ve always tried to instil in my own children. So, I decided to bite the bullet and send Bec an email asking if she’d like to support me on my journey in some way. After all, what did I have to lose?
Right from the beginning Bec jumped on board. She shared my story with her Facebook followers, put me in touch with her friends at Mamamia and with Rebecca Levingston at ABC Radio Brisbane, and offered me the opportunity to do work experience with her and Robin Bailey on their podcast The Well when it returns to air in 2018. Amazing! Recently Bec invited me along to share a couple of days with her as she was being interviewed and filmed, first for ABC’s Australian Story and then for Channel 10’s The Project.
What did I do?
This was definitely an observation role for me, and was a great way to get a glimpse into some of the exciting things Bec does. It’s why I decided my job title this week would be Bec #2. I was the Bec in the background!
The first day I spent with Bec was at her home with the crew from Australian Story. Bec was being interviewed for an upcoming story about her extraordinary young friend Emma Betts, who very sadly passed away earlier this year. Since her diagnosis of stage 4 melanoma a few years ago, Emma had shared her life with terminal cancer on her blog Dear Melanoma. Before the interview took place, Bec was filmed playing on the veranda with her three young children, and sitting at her dining table working on her laptop. It was interesting to see the ABC crew at work. They took quite a lot of footage from different angles, which I’m sure will be edited down to just couple of snippets for when the program goes to air.
Australian Story producer Vanessa Gorman conducted the interview with Bec. She had a notebook which she referenced to guide some of her questions, and had in mind the stories she wanted Bec to share. If Bec’s answer was a bit too detailed, if an aeroplane went overhead or a power tool was being used next door, or if the dog started yapping during recording, Bec had to do a retake. I think for me that would’ve been very difficult to do, but Bec was so polished and it didn’t rattle her (or at least she didn’t show it). I love watching Australian Story, and sometimes wonder how I didn’t know more about the people whose stories are featured on it. It was pretty amazing to watch the interview take place, and to hear Bec’s stories about her beautiful friend. I really look forward to watching Emma’s story when it features on Australian Story next year.
A couple of days later, Bec was back in front of the camera for a heart-warming Christmas story that was being filmed for The Project. During the year, Bec had met with fifty year 7, 8 and 9 students from Loganlea State High School who were part of the school’s Academic Excellence Program. She was so impressed by the students, many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds, and wanted to send them a loud and clear message that she believed in them. She also wanted to encourage them to stay in the academic program so that they’d have the power to choose which direction they’d like their lives to take in the future. Bec decided to ask her 15 000 strong Facebook community for help to provide presents for each of the students. Their teacher Kiri sneakily asked students to write wish lists (under the guise of an assessment piece) which she then passed on. Bec received an overwhelming response from people all over Australia who wanted to contribute. Bags full of gifts, vouchers, and books started rolling in. Some people wrote the most beautiful messages in cards to the students with words of encouragement. It was incredible!
So where did I come in? I was lucky to jump on board for the delivery day, and I’m pretty sure the extra pair of hands I brought came in handy. After the cameraman took a number of shots of all of the gift bags in Bec’s living room, it was time for Bec to be interviewed about her Christmas Kindness Campaign. The interview was conducted over the phone while Bec’s responses were filmed. Then it was time to load up the cars with gift bags. Bec and her friend Sarah were so excited and couldn’t wait to see the reactions of the students, who had no idea what had been planned.
Once we got to Loganlea and moved all of the gifts from the car to the hall (with the help of Kobe and his buggy), it was time for Bec to talk to the students. She told them how much of an impression they’d left on her when she’d met them, and revealed how she had organised gifts for everyone. There was such a buzz in the room. With help from Sarah (while I took photos and the camera rolled), Bec delivered each gift bag, and had a couple of words with each student. It was the most beautiful thing to see and hear their reactions, and I’m never going to forget it.
You can see The Project’s story on Bec’s Christmas Kindness Campaign, and footage taken by the teachers at Loganlea State High School by visiting Rebecca Sparrow’s Facebook page here.
What did I learn?
I really enjoyed being a fly on the wall to see how the television interview and filming process works. Bec was so good at answering questions clearly, concisely and confidently, which as I’ve experienced on the radio is really quite hard to do! I wonder if the ability to do that comes with practice? Or if it’s a special skill people like Bec are born with? Perhaps some Toastmasters sessions are on the cards for me in the future to combat my nerves.
I was also reminded that a little kindness goes a very long way. I’m so grateful to Bec for helping me to share my story, and for including me in hers. Not to mention the amazing boost she’s given the kids at Loganlea with the help of her Facebook community. I’m looking forward to seeing where her Christmas Kindness Campaign takes her next year.
Update (April 2018): The Australian Story episode Dear Emma recently aired. It was incredible touching and well worth watching. To see the episode click here.
If you’d like to read Mamamia’s article on my 40 40 Experience click here.