One of my first pieces of journalistic writing was bound with yarn and illustrated with crayon sketches. It shared, in captivating prose, my experience living in a motorhome and traveling around the United States — at the ripe age of 4 – years-old.

As my parents, brother, and I traversed 38 states in seven months, I interacted with people who were different than me, saw landmarks that conveyed the importance of standing for a cause, learned how to live simply, and cultivated a curiosity that taught me not only how to ask questions but how to truly listen.

I also learned how to tie my shoes. It really was a life-changing trip.

To this day, I remain grateful to my parents for taking a risk, selling our home, and striking out to see the world with two kids in tow.

Two years after our travels, my first grade teacher encouraged me to write a book for a Young Authors competition. I wrote about our trip.

I didn’t win the competition, but that first travel log — not to mention the actual travels — are some of the most defining moments of my life. They planted the seeds that have driven many of my choices over the years.

Ten years after living in a motorhome, I lived on a canal boat in England on my first short-term missions trip. At 17, I went to China to teach English for a summer. Excursions to Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, El Salvador and New Zealand followed, some with friends, some solo, and the most recent with my husband: a kind, funny, creative man who satisfies his own curiosity through the lens of a camera.

I have written throughout my life — in personal journals, on public blogs, for two newspapers, and on a few napkins. While I lean toward non-fiction, I also have a novel, a junior novel, and a children’s book tucked away on my computer.

One of the things I appreciate most about journalism is how humbled I feel when someone trusts me to tell their story, and tell it well. I realize the vulnerability that takes, and I strive to treat my sources with the care and compassion they deserve. Even in hard-hitting pieces or investigative journalism, we must respect the humanity underlying the news.

When not writing, traveling, or dreaming of traveling, I like to drink coffee with my husband, crawl around the house with my 1-year-old daughter, walk, bike, hike, kayak, snowshoe, bake, and read.

By: Hannah M. Sheely for 82801

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