Brent Hines: A Journey to Global Writer

0 Commentsby   |  10.24.11  |  Alumni Spotlight

After 2 years in Armenia Brent enjoys a Texas H.S. football game with his sister

I  remember one of my students from the spring 2007.

First impressions: He was tall, had a winning smile, and was unassuming in demeanor. He was especially keen to receive ideas about how to improve his writing.

Even more I remember the pleasant surprise when he turned in his first piece for Eng. 323: Creative Nonfiction Workshop. “Stridulation, Wings on Teeth” was a meditation on crickets (which seemed to be everywhere at ACU the previous fall), a journey to Guatemala, and more. With the writer’s permission I sent the piece off to the annual Christianity and Literature student writing contest.

It took first place in the nonfiction category.

That was only the beginning for English major Brent Hines

A Chance to Write for a Living

A few weeks ago I heard from Brent that he had just landed his “dream job.” What would be a dream job for someone like Brent? As he puts it, “I’m actually getting paid to write.”

Brent will take on the role of Roving Correspondent for the American Refugee Committee. He’ll be based at the ARC’s headquarters in Minneapolis. From there he will travel to the places like Rwanda, Somalia, Thailand, Haiti, etc., to write, shoot film and photos, and generally create content for the ARC blog, twitter, youtube channel, and per Brent’s email, “just about anything else they need me to create.”

Wow. Pretty impressive!

From Blog to Dream Job

In December 2008, Brent got in touch with me.  He was working as a temporary stock room clerk at a college bookstore.  It wasn’t a career choice, but it wasn’t a bad gig either. He had found that some of his fellow employees were so interesting that it inspired him to write about them. Brent’s writing by then had gravitated from the page to a blog he had begun, Bread to be Eaten

Brent noted:

“I’m still struggling to make writing a part of my regular lifestyle.  It is hard to do without an audience.  I get the most thrill out of sharing my writing, out of the telling.  But, I get such a buzz out of the process that once I start I can’t stop.  So, whatever writing will be, it will definitely be here with me.”

Flash ahead to the summer 2009. Brent joined the Peace Corps. He went to Armenia for a two-year stint. 

Brent with Meri, his "little sister" from his host family

At that point, Brent’s blog took on a whole new flavor. One might say there was much more “bread to be eaten” and it was reflected in his remarkable posts and photographs.

The blog was so well done that it showed up in my classroom. In Eng. 323, besides our usual look at authors who brought a creative flair to nonfiction (e.g., Annie Dillard, Tom Wolfe, Loren Eiseley) I had begun to acquaint students with writing in the blogosphere and encourage them to create, let’s call them, “literary quality blogs.”

Brent’s blog became one of my Exhibit A’s.

After two years in Armenian and amazing opportunities to serve people and feel comfortable with a foreign culture, Brent was well prepared to pursue the ARC position. Plus, he had his ace in the hole, a tangible credential he could offer in the interview process. His blog. Solid evidence that he could write the kind of new media content that people will want to read.

So congratulations to Brent! We look forward to the stories he’s going to bring us from the most challenging places in the world, where people have been displaced and their very lives are threatened. I am especially proud that one of our own is going to share with the world these stories and bring more of the help that urgently needs to be extended to the “least of these.” – A.H.



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