Secrets from a CI field reporter

Recently, I shared the above photo of myself with a colleague on social media, captioning it with a few words about working for a nongovernment organization.

In it, I said: “It isn’t always rainbows and butterflies. But I’m proud to say I get to work at a place where I find fulfillment and learn many things in the most unusual situations. My job as a field reporter involves documenting and writing about the lives of different families and children, and how organizations like ours help kids rise from the ground.

It’s more than just taking photos and videos or writing stories, though. Here are three other job titles that aptly describe what I (and the other CI field reporters) do on a monthly basis — and why I think my job is awesome despite its ups and downs!

Pauline takes a photo with CI teens in Manila, Philippines

Pauline (bottom left) takes selfies with sponsored teens during a Youth Empowerment Fund event.

1. Explorer.

Whenever I receive a new list of assignments from CI HQ, I get giddy inside. It’s like looking at the map of my next adventure and planning my way. And just like your typical explorer, I start a new journey by prepping: I get my camera equipment ready (yes, there’s a long checklist somewhere in there) and put on my full-body gear, which includes comfy jeans, good socks, a pair of sturdy sneakers, a cap or an umbrella to protect me from my country’s angry sun and any shirt with CI’s logo on it. (Shhhh … It’s the secret weapon!)

Ready to take on the day, I step out of the vehicle and into the scorching heat (or the crazy rain — there are really only two seasons here) and once again look through my list.

Did I forget anything? Which way do I go? Who should I take with me? Most of the time, as many adventurers do, I befriend locals (CI community center volunteers) and get through the day with their help.

We walk through the streets — some paved, others soil and dust — for hours. Everywhere we go, we are offered food. And we take lots and lots of photos. My favorite part is meeting new people and learning about their cultures. Each story is different to my eyes and ears, and it’s always surreal.

Outside the CI community center is a public marketStep outside the community center in Calumpit, Philippines, and you’ll see these large umbrellas, providing temporary shade for vendors and their stalls at the public market.

2. Party clown.

The dictionary describes clowns as comic performers who employ slapstick or similar types of physical humor, often in a mime style.

I totally do this. I’m not kidding.

Why? For one, I need to make sure the kids and their families are comfortable with me and my huge camera! Joking and playing around makes them feel like I’m comfortable with them, as well. It’s important to blend in to the community to make sure I’m getting the most honest photos and stories.

Imitating Pauline, these sponsored kids and their cousins make silly faces at the camera.

Aside from that, I just simply love making people smile and laugh. Not to mention, the best photos I’ve ever taken were of genuine smiles and not just a photo taken after directing them to say “cheese!”

People’s real emotions definitely bring life to any photo. A few tricks for those of you who love taking candid and happy photos:
Ask siblings or parents and their kids to hug or kiss
Tell a joke
Make a funny face
Tell your subject how gorgeous you think they are at that moment.

These tricks bring magic to the lens!

Pauline posted her favorite photos to a bulletin board.

Pauline’s favorite snapshots, taken while working for CI, adorn a bulletin board in her office nook. She says it keeps a positive vibe in her space.

3. Baymax.

Hello. I am Baymax, your personal health care companion.” Not just me actually; it’s me and all of my colleagues as a team. Baymax was created by Disney to be a health-care-providing robot and also best friend to the main character, Tadashi, of the movie “Big Hero 6.”

Likewise, although we — as regular employees of this organization — were hired to make sure we’re doing all we can to provide beneficial assistance and programs to our sponsored kids, we have become their friends and family as well.

As a field reporter, there are many times I have to hold back my tears behind the camera after learning about the lives of the families and communities we are helping. It makes me feel really good that we provide them their very own “Baymax team” — their sponsors, the staff and volunteers of CI.

Pauline takes a photo of a girl with her cell phone.

Pauline snaps a photo of a cute sponsored girl during a Youth Empowerment Fund event.

I ended my post saying, “I’m happy I get to see the world from a different perspective, a perspective in which I’m reminded to appreciate everything I have but, at the same time, act for those whose lives are a lot different than mine. Aside from that, I'm surrounded by grateful children, passionate colleagues and happy places!”

I’m pretty sure there’s no perfect job out there. But it’s always important to look at the brighter things in life, right?


May 26, 2016

Way to go Pauline!!! It's so nice to see how enthusiastic Pauline is at her job. She cannot hide the fact that she truly enjoys what she does. The impact she makes on the families she visits is worth a million... Her photos are beautiful. Keep up the good work at CI. You can make a difference!

Aug 20, 2016

Great article, Pauline. Love what you and CI Teams do for these families!! I have had the good fortune to meet my sponsored children from Manila, Quezon City & Legazpi. The experience is life changing. Agree the pictures are beautiful!! Thank You, Pauline and all the wonderful people working at CI.

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