The Editor’s Desk: A Final Farewell

From the 1st Annual MIR Awards:

Writing this farewell speech was, in a lot of ways, like trying to encapsulate my entire four years at McGill…because amidst all the turmoil of my personal life, amidst my initial captivation by and subsequent disillusionment with my academic pursuits, amidst the existential crises that by now are simply too numerous to count, MIR has been a constant source of inspiration and purpose. Putting my heart and soul into this incredible publication has never felt like work for me; quite the opposite, in fact: it quickly became my escape from the stressful and mundane. It is a fundamental part of who I am today, and I have grown alongside MIR in ways that I would have never imagined before coming here.

From its infancy, when as a dumbstruck 18-year-old I approached Alex Langer in September 2014 at the shabbiest of SSMU Activities Night tables, simply looking for any publication that spoke to me, I recognized something truly special and inventive in MIR; not only in terms of the unique globalist outlook that it offered to the often-insular McGill community but also in terms of the sheer passion and intellect with which its writers approached seemingly-bewildering issues of seismic importance. I wanted to get involved in any way I could, and with the life-changing mentorship of editors like Alex, Tiffany Lee, Nancy Kanwal, May Lim and Maéva Proteau, I was able to write seven articles that year on topics ranging from the Zapatista insurgency in Mexico to Botswana’s inclusive development model. Yeah, I was a weird freshman.

At that point, MIR counted under 40 staff members, with no media team or notable campus clout to speak of. I think it goes without saying that we’ve made some pretty substantial strides in the last four years, and if I were so inclined, I could probably fill the rest of this speech with a list of all the accomplishments and accolades that I’ve been privileged enough to be a part of in my time with this publication. That list, however, is for another time. Ultimately, MIR is about the people, the opportunity to learn from someone else’s experiences and viewpoints as part of a common pursuit towards greater knowledge and compassion, the mutual support that constantly pushes us to improve as individuals and not merely writers, editors or whatever role we find ourselves in. I’ve found this to be especially true as Editor-in-Chief, a job whose round-the-clock responsibilities inevitably entailed a lot of lonely nights spent working behind the harsh glare of my laptop screen. Under such circumstances, constructive relationships are everything, both essential for effective leadership and precious on a personal level. My legacy with MIR is thus defined not by awards or benchmarks, but by friendships and experiences that I will cherish for the rest of my life. And so, I would like to substitute one list for another by thanking, in the roughest of chronological orders, all the people that have made MIRacles happen for me:

  • Mom & Dad: Thank you for nurturing and encouraging my curiosity at every turn.
  • Andy Vineberg & Tom Raski: Thank you for stoking my interest in journalism and giving countless young writers confidence in their own voices.
  • Alex Langer: As I’ve previously mentioned, none of this would be possible without your original vision. Thank you for planting the seeds of a publication that has completely changed my life.
  • Nancy Kanwal: Oftentimes, a freshman’s first direct impression with a publication can have a major impact on their likelihood to stick with it, and I thank you for being a dependable source of advice and inspiration in those early days. Keep kicking it in Geneva!
  • Maéva Proteau: You are literally a superwoman. I can’t even begin to summarize the tremendous, lasting influence you’ve had on MIR, but I can say that I was lucky enough to have you as an editor even before you became Editor-in-Chief—and two years of work experience with Maéva effectively amounts to a lifetime of lessons. You and I share a profound commitment to recognizing and rewarding hard work, and I hope I’ve made you proud in carrying on that same commitment today.
  • Jasmine Lee & Emily Grillo: Jasmine, your blogs from Istanbul last semester, not to mention a whole host of preceding articles, have provided eye-opening insight for MIR’s readers. Meeting you in C4 was, without a doubt, one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. Emily, although you never worked for MIR in any official capacity, you have been my biggest supporter since Day 1…and although I despise you to the point that you make me physically ill, I would happily suffer through the pain for the chance to spend even the briefest of moments with you. All in all, you two have been the greatest friends anyone could ask for. I love you both so much, and I never would have had the courage to do this job without your unconditional support.
  • Bella Shraiman: Your work ethic is unparalleled, and I’m forever indebted to you for believing in me from the very beginning.
  • Iris Boisseau: For the longest period, MIR’s media team felt like nothing more than the two of us venturing out on shoots with a shoddy camcorder…but thanks to your tutelage, I learned the ins and outs of videography and laid the technical foundation of my lifelong love for filmmaking.
  • Flora Bertin: There are echoes of your graphic designs in MIR’s more recent social media plans, and I thank you for undertaking those early efforts to create a more professional, polished publication.
  • Lia Fuzzati: Even after a four-hour Board meeting, a demoralizing disappointment or just simply an exhausting day of work, coming home to you each night makes it all worth it. You’ve loved and cared for me in my darkest moments, and there’s no one else I’d rather have by my side, through this tumultuous year and beyond. I love you so much.
  • Neal Won & John Chrobak: In your own ways, you’re both gifted editors and men of staggering brilliance.
  • Rosa Rupert: Port of Solidarity remains one of the finest works of journalism that MIR has ever produced, and your visionary podcast helped usher in a new era for our fledgling media team. My semester working with you remains one of the most educational experiences of my life.
  • Juliette Bélis: When I first hired you for MIR’s media team, you were just 17 years-old, but your introspective maturity and poise quickly spoke volumes about your potential to grow within this publication and impact it in a major way. I was thrilled to see you return this semester as an interviewer, and I’m confident that you and David will make a formidable team next year.
  • Kate Chamberlin: Whether it was mixing up street names in Verdun or sopping up my blood from Professor Bradley’s office (long story there), going on shoots with you was honestly some of the most fun I’ve had in my four years with MIR. Without you, my promotion to Editor-in-Chief simply wouldn’t have been possible, and I thank you for being my unfailing companion on even the foolhardiest of media team endeavours.
  • Miro Guzzini: Your knowledge of obscure 19th century philosophy is surpassed only by your superb taste in beer, and from me, that is the highest of compliments.
  • Dylan Lamberti: To this day, I am in awe of everything you achieved in such a short timespan as Editor-in-Chief. You oversaw a watershed year for MIR, in which we nearly doubled our staff size and firmly cemented our place amongst the major publications on campus. You exponentially increased the quality of our analysis and cultivated talent at all levels of the organization, providing a stable footing for me to pick up right where you left off. I knew you were a great boss from the moment I met you, but what I didn’t count on was also gaining a great friend and confidant in the process.
  • Marie Lemieux: Your personal touch leaps off the pages of this year’s MIR journal. Thank you for giving us a professional, eye-catching publication that all staff, online and print alike, should be immensely proud of.
  • My entire 2017-2018 editorial board:
    • Shivang Mahajan: Congratulations on the new ESA position!
    • Kathryn Schmidt: Thank you for all your hard work over the years!
    • Luca Loggia: Latin American specialist extraordinaire
    • Patricia Sibal: Nothing but the best for you over at MJPS!
    • Arnavi Mehta: You’re an unsung hero during pitch meetings, and just as crucially, you helped fuel my unhealthy addiction to The Office.
    • Andrew Figueiredo & Pauline Werner: You’re not in Kansas anymore (you have permission to smack me for all the times you’ve probably heard that) …and thank God, because getting to know the two of you has been a continually-enriching experience. Pauline, I met you two years ago when Dylan organized a bar night for all the editors and the media team leader to get to know each other, and you immediately made me feel welcomed. Hope you’re having an amazing time in Hong Kong! Andrew, I feel like I can talk to you for hours about the intricacies, nuances and baffling contradictions of our home country’s democracy, and I’m constantly learning from your unique perspective on some of the foremost issues of our time.
    • Zoë Wilkins: Even from your field exchange this semester, you were one of our most dependable editors all year. You’re an all-around positive presence on any team, always full of encouragement and constructive advice for how writers can raise their work to the next level.
    • Marissa Fortune: Thank you for being ahead of the game every publishing cycle. Even under challenging circumstances and unprecedented adversity, knowing you were there always made me feel better.
    • Phoebe Warren: I want whatever you’re on, because your intrinsic drive has always astounded me. Even beyond your trustworthiness as an editor, your daily coverage of CSW62 last month represented a media project of staggering significance…and you were the perfect pick to bear that responsibility. Thank you for everything you’ve done for MIR and best of luck at Edinburgh!
    • Kaatje O’Donnell: After just one publishing cycle, several writers were already calling you the best editor they’ve ever worked with. You joined us in January amidst a hectic publishing schedule of three, if not four, articles per day….and you never missed a beat.
    • Théa Koper: I’d be hard-pressed to find a more genuinely nice person than you. My dear, you radiate warmth and kindness wherever you go, and one of my biggest regrets of the last four years is that I didn’t have the opportunity to get to know you sooner.
    • Leila Mathy: Consistently in attendance at pitch meetings and always willing to lend constructive feedback to your fellow staff, you recognize that strong journalism represents far more than the simple act of writing. You embrace and promote MIR as a collaborative endeavour, embodying what it means to be part of a publishing team. In short, Leila, you were one of the brightest new additions of my tenure.
    • Frankie Wallace: Constantly striving to learn more and implement new project ideas, you are an intrinsically-motivated individual whose ambition rubs off on all those around you. You place a profound emphasis on the educational merits and trendsetting promise of MIR, embodying the spirit of critical and courageous journalism that we strive for as a media organization.
    • Gracie Webb: Your life is fucking fascinating. If it hasn’t been made abundantly clear already, profound intelligence was a recurring theme amongst this year’s editorial board, but what is truly remarkable is that each editor brought something unique to the table. Gracie, in your case, you were an ideal co-editor on blogs as well as the perfect intellectual pairing for Jasmine, Wynn, José and other writers who benefitted from your mentorship. I wish you nothing but the best on exchange next year. Wherever you end up, they’ll be very lucky to have you.
    • Jason Li: Whether during pitch meetings or informal discussions with the rest of the editorial board, you are consistently the smartest person in the room, wielding an understated wisdom well beyond your years and meticulously measuring each thought with the same attention to detail you employ in your editing. Anyone fortunate enough to befriend you will inevitably emerge from the experience having learned a valuable lesson in writing and humility, and I count myself amongst that privileged group of individuals. Over the last two years, you have done more to develop young talent than just about anyone else on MIR’s staff; simply put, this publication would not be where it is today without you. Jason, I would wish you the best of luck after graduation, but I don’t think you need any help from me there.
  • Harry Turner & Juju Deshormes: It’s been an absolute joy getting to know both of you this past year, whether on MIR Meets shoots or long daytrips to Québec City. Harry, besides your invaluable insights on videography, you are one of the most effortlessly hilarious people I’ve ever met. Juju, you’re a gifted on-screen personality, a phenomenal cook, and an implausibly-kind soul. Together, the two of you do far more than foster a positive work environment on shoots. You make them fun, and that is, after all, why we do this in the first place.
  • Xiuyuan Zhu & Shimon Chenzhou: Always willing to lend a helping hand, you two are this year’s media team MVPs in my eyes. Shimon, you have an uncanny ability to find beauty in the most unlikely of places. Xiuyuan, you may not say very much, but when you do, everyone around you would do well to listen.
  • Carlo Mole: You have no idea how much I appreciate the outstanding work that you’ve done to exponentially raise the production quality of MIR media. You’re a wizard, a diamond in the rough, and you always keep it real with me. Having you as media team leader this year has been an absolute blast, and I can’t wait to work with you and Juju again this summer on our film.
  • The countless writers who really stepped up to the plate this year, including but certainly not limited to tonight’s nominees. I’d like to extend a special congratulations to Steven Polyakov, Luca Brown, Chris Ciafro, Isabel Post, Allegra Mendelson, Milan Singh-Cheema, John Weston, and my favourite Gerts bartender, Helena Martin, for their recent promotions to editors for 2018-2019.
  • Last but certainly not least, the incoming executive team:
    • David Boot: Your new position, media team leader, carries tremendous personal importance for me, and I’m proud to see that it has once again fallen into extremely-capable hands. Despite Carlo and I’s incessant reminders about the necessity of finding solid equipment and other tried and true adages for what is arguably the most self-starting position in MIR, you ultimately define the parameters of what you can accomplish next year. Your easygoing manner and adaptable work style will allow you to realize tremendous success across a wide variety of projects, and I encourage you to follow your vision for a Montreal-based documentary. There’s nowhere for you to go but up, David.
    • Alec Regino: You have an almost-frightening ability to absorb constructive criticism and channel it into immediate, tangible action. Like me, you are your own toughest critic, and that raw desire to continuously improve will make you an exceptional Senior Editor. I’m also low-key jealous of your suits, so there’s that.
    • Shirley Wang: From the very first moments of your editor interview last spring, you completely blew me away with your natural leadership ability and charisma. I’m so proud of you, and I can’t wait to see what more you’ll accomplish next year as a Senior Editor.
    • Sarie Khalid: More than a Senior Editor, you were a brother to me this year. According to my job description, Editor-in-Chief is an unpaid position, but I can confidently say that your friendship has been the best form of compensation anyone could ever hope for. Sarie, you have consistently built constructive relationships with writers and editors throughout the last three years. You wear your passion for this publication on your sleeve, never neglecting staff experiences for the sake of expediency or expansion. You have my utmost confidence, respect, love and admiration, and I couldn’t be prouder to call you the new Editor-in-Chief of MIR.

Organizing this awards ceremony has been the absolute least I could do to express my eternal gratitude to all of you for making my last four years the most transformative of my life, and the full list of people who have impacted my life through MIR extends well beyond those I just named. Thank you for granting me the surreal honour of leading this wild publication that I love so much. If I can leave you with one closing remark, never underestimate the power of dialogue and debate. Never forget the weight of this platform we have to express ourselves. Never neglect the strength of this misfit community that, in a time of crushing darkness, has kept the light on in our own little corner of the world.

…And with that, I’m out.