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I found my ‘Home Under the Dome’ and I hope you do too

| Monday, September 4, 2023

I was a skeptic well before I came to Notre Dame.

I wanted to believe the University marketers who said I’d find a “Home Under the Dome” here, but I simultaneously braced myself for the chance of that never happening.

I wouldn’t find my “Home Under the Dome” until the very end of my sophomore year. It was well worth the wait.

On April 3, 2022, I walked into The Observer office in the basement of South Dining Hall carrying a cup of Starbucks from LaFun and wearing boots, cuffed khakis and a multicolored, corduroy jacket.

Though I look forward to the opening of the Raclin-Murphy art museum, The Observer office is the only University museum I’ll ever need to visit. With all due respect to the Grotto and Basilica, the basement of South Dining Hall is the most sacred spot on campus.

At my first news meeting, I received a paper copy of the week’s story “budget.” The editors introduced themselves, and then I had a brief chance to do the same. Next, it was time to volunteer for a story. I kept my hand down and my mouth shut.

But like anyone who has just recognized something beautiful or holy, I lingered.

I wanted to peruse every newspaper and soak up every photo tacked upon the walls. I wanted to open up every drawer of every desk and cabinet. Most of all, I wanted to meet the people behind every sticky note, candy wrapper and slash of red pen.

When the meeting ended and everyone else stood up and left, I remained frozen in my seat. An editor kindly approached me and talked to me one-on-one. My life has never been the same.

I emerged from the basement of South Dining Hall on that day 18 months ago with a story assignment, and I have until this May to keep coming back for more.

A writer once told me that people join their student newspaper for three reasons. The first reason people join their campus paper is they want to pursue a career in journalism.

However, some individuals join a student newspaper with no intentions of ever being a full-time journalist. These people fall into the second category. Professionally, they might want to become doctors, bankers or engineers. The second type of students work for The Observer because they know it’ll teach them communications skills which will be valuable in any profession.

The writer said the third reason students join the newspaper is to make friends.

When I left The Observer office on April 3, 2022, I felt so optimistic. I knew I could come back the next Sunday and sign up for another assignment.

I also knew I could come back the next week and those same news editors were going to be there. I realized that on each Sunday for the rest of my time as a Notre Dame student, I could come to The Observer and have the opportunity to build relationships with my classmates.

This reality was and still is comforting to me.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Peter Breen

Peter Breen is an associate news editor for The Observer. He can be reached at [email protected]. Breen grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and is a senior majoring in the Program of Liberal Studies.

Contact Peter