Yang successfully completed both the master’s project and his year at the J-School in May of 2019. That fall, he began the second year of the dual degree program at SIPA, an experience he describes as more academic (“research, essays and exams”) than his year at the J-School.
In September, Yang also began an editorial internship at Narratively, a website focused on non-fiction storytelling. When his editor let him know the door was open to pitch his own stories, Yang jumped at the chance to share his master’s project. The story was picked up, and Narratively commissioned the Shanghai-based photographer Gráinne Quinlan to take photos of the family Yang had profiled.
Although the original project already had a heavy narrative focus, some additional editing was required to make it a Narratively story.
“The original story was longer and had more newsy elements,” he said. “I was talking more about what was controversial and what the Chinese legal context was.”
Writing for the site’s audience also meant providing context for a largely American readership who might be unfamiliar with Chinese culture.
“There were things I consider common sense that I realized I needed to explain more, like the LGBT situation in China,” Yang said.
Bridging cultures is familiar territory for Yang. He served on the Model United Nations as an undergraduate and has considered using his dual degree to pursue diplomatic work. But now, he says, journalism is his first priority.
“I think I’m exploring new perspectives that people weren’t familiar with before,” he said. “There aren’t a lot of stories about gay Chinese people building families through surrogacy out there. I want people to know this is another part of their lives. And this is a more positive story, not about how they’re discriminated against or oppressed by the government.”