Shine news

Our Shine 2020 experience

At Shine 2020, the team at Bromsgrove School entered their publication Two Zero One, which was created entirely during April’s Covid lockdown. The project was enormously successful, winning among several other awards Best Magazine.

Here, Editor of the Year winner Vivianne Zhang Wei tells us about her experience entering Shine – and how Two Zero One happened. The article is accompanied by two original illustrations by team member Jule Sturz.

The Shine judges commended Two Zero One for having pulled our winning issue together “despite” the circumstances – but honestly? Looking back at it, I’d say that it was, rather, all because of them.

After schools closed in late March, our first thought was also to produce another issue “despite” lockdown to help bring some normality to the Bromsgrove community. Perhaps we could choose a cheerful theme to distract everyone with happier thoughts, or reminisce about life pre-COVID as a much-needed reminder that such a thing had existed (and that a post-COVID would too). It wasn’t until we started working on it that we realised how this was turning into the opposite instead: a tribute to all the abnormality – but also how that might just be what we really needed all along. To stop up, acknowledge that this might not be something temporary to simply “wait out” and do our best to ignore in the meantime, but to process, and respond to.

Sure, putting everything together remotely did have its challenges; we’ve been frustrated by time zone differences, lost files in “the Cloud” (haven’t we all) when trying to share them, encountered the defects of email communication – but what follows that daunting realisation that, perhaps, we can’t really stop the world from changing just because we find it inconvenient, is a refreshingly humbling one: that, perhaps, it’s us who have to change.

Being able to push through and “do your thing” no matter what is admirable in its own way, but my takeaway from Shine 2020 is that sometimes, what takes even more courage – and is even more rewarding – is adapting.

I remember how before starting our first team meeting over Zoom back in early April, I questioned how in the world we would keep everyone motivated now that we were reduced to just pixels in little participant boxes, as opposed to real people huddled up under the library stairs or around a table in the school’s Futures’ office. Wouldn’t this all only serve to rub our loneliness in our faces even more?

But then, one by one, my friends started popping up on my laptop screen… and I just couldn’t stop smiling. With most of us being boarders, we were scattered all over the world – Germany, Russia, Hong Kong, Romania, Belgium, Austria, England, Sweden – and yet, here: still alone, but alone, together.

“Despite” seems to be the wrong word, because it was somewhere in that strange yet soothing feeling, that we found our inspiration. The wrong word, because this wasn’t a “plan B”; this was something new.

Work ethic, grit, discipline… well, these are all good skills to have when hardships come at us – but watching the Shine committee broadcast from their living rooms that Monday afternoon showed us young, aspiring journalists, what it really takes to be in this industry: humility, courage, imagination.

– Vivianne Zhang Wei