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I was touched last week by the impromptu farewell speech an intern delivered in the newsroom.

Each semester we have two multimedia interns work for us. They generally come from all over the United States and work like any other member of our photo/video team. They see us at our best and our worst.

They're usually young and fairly inexperienced -- they're interns, after all. We never know exactly what we're going to get after they arrive at the Advocate mini-dorm across Constitution Street.

Often, they amaze us with their maturity and their talents. Once in a while, they surprise us with what they don't know and with what they only think they know.

This semester, interns Andrea Wise and Morgan Walker left us with a remarkable gift for the newspaper and the community -- a special project called "The Same Kind of Different."

When we gathered to say goodbye to our interns, Andrea gave a brief speech for both of them. I wish I had recorded what she said -- or at least taken notes -- because she was so eloquent. I'll do my best to paraphrase here:

She said she didn't know what to expect when she arrived in Victoria from Connecticut, but she was surprised to find a group of friends working together toward a common goal. The people in the Advocate newsroom seemed almost like a family.

She also was struck by the newspaper's special relationship with its community. She was out almost every day taking pictures and shooting video and learned how much what we publish matters to the people who live here. That's what prompted her and Morgan to work so hard on their special project -- they also wanted to leave a gift behind for the community that had welcomed them.

Finally, she was struck by how the Advocate's family ownership allowed us to make decisions based on what was best for our community without looking to a remote corporate office for approval. After she and Morgan presented their project to us, we were able to change the size of our Sunday Your Life section to accommodate it and develop a news story to accompany the photos and video.

I tried to summarize Andrea's comments during our company's Christmas meeting, but I didn't do them justice. I can't tell you how much it warms an editor's heart to hear a newcomer grasp and express what matters most to you about your newsroom.

What a terrific early Christmas present.