Fitzgerald’s 1928: the Never-Ending Story

Noreen Connolly

What does it mean to be adventurous?  Ask town resident Noreen Connolly the next time you see her in Fitzgerald’s.  She received the news while sitting in the office of her oncologist.  When she posed the inevitable question, he said “Go for it!” She had just learned, a woman in her 60’s, that she had won a prize previously reserved for kids in their 20’s — a trip with NY Times columnist Nicholas Kristof to the developing world.

She recovered fully from the cancer, but never from the trip.

“It changed my life.  It took me places I never would have gone” … not only in the world, but in her mind.  It gave Ms. Connolly, the journalism teacher, the chance to take on a challenge she poses every day to her students at St. Benedict’s Preparatory School in Newark:  “Find the story that won’t get told unless you do it.”

Here is the essay Noreen wrote to win the coveted spot:

Noreen’s trip to five African countries – Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Burkina Faso — took place in 2011, five years after columnist Kristof introduced the contest.  Read her NY Times blogs about poverty and politics, river blindness, growing gardens for survival, infant malnutrition and other matters of life and death:

Kristof’s selection basis is very clear:  “My main criterion in choosing a winner is not who will benefit the most, or who ‘deserves’ it the most, but who can be most effective in interesting a larger audience in what we see. I firmly believe that many global problems fester because they’re invisible.”

Why not choose a journalism teacher with the profound understanding that no story ever really ends?  To paraphrase Henry Adams: “A teacher affects eternity; she can never tell where her influence stops.”  For a teacher of journalism, multiply this infinite influence by an exponential factor as her students go out into a world full of readers.

Just as this story does. 

Everything happens at Fitzgerald’s 1928.

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