Q&A: North Potomac Native Dishes on New Orleans, Writing Pursuits
Jared Sichel, with roots in North Potomac and Rockville, moonlights as a blogger and journalist when not finishing up his degrees at a New Orleans university.
Jared Sichel has experienced his share of culture shifts over the years.
The 22-year-old North Potomac native will enter his final semester at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA, this fall, earning a master's degree in accounting and a bachelor's degree in finance. It's a ways from his days at Charles E. Smith Jewish Day Lower and Upper Schools in Rockville, where he attended from grades K-12, he said.
Sichel stays active by playing football, basketball and tennis, and has played baseball since he was five years old, he said.
But his most recent interests in writing and journalism have been what's set the course lately, with Sichel pursuing blogging as a contributor on NextGen Journal, and as an intern at the Pennsylvania Independent in Harrisburg, PA, this summer.
"Fantasy football and fountain pens are probably my two biggest hobbies," he wrote in an e-mail.
Patch caught up with Sichel and and asked the following questions. Read his answers below.
Patch: What's your favorite thing about North Potomac?
Jared Sichel: It's a nice, quiet community. I love driving through the parts of Darnestown that make me feel like I'm in the country. And while it has a nice rural/suburbia feel, I can find any store that I want within 10 miles.
P: What's your least favorite thing about North Potomac?
JS: My two least favorite things about Maryland are, a) speed cameras and, b) the five cent tax on paper/plastic bags. Nothing specifically about N. Potomac really bothers me.
P: What's your favorite thing about New Orleans?
JS: The people. I love that courtesy and politeness are a given in the South. In the North, particularly in NYC, if I nod to someone on the street and tell them to have a good day, they think that I'm going to mug them. In the South, if you don't do that, people think you're a bit odd.
P: What's your least favorite thing about New Orleans?
JS: The service sector. Getting good customer service in NOLA is so difficult. Incompetence is the norm.
P: Please provide a brief background on what you do professionally and recreationally, and what has lead you to spend time in the New Orleans area.
JS: When I'm not doing schoolwork, I'm either spending time with my beautiful girlfriend Jennifer, reading, writing, exercising, or studying Jewish texts with my rabbi. My biggest extracurricular projects right now are my articles for the Pennsylvania Independent, NextGenJournal and my blog.
P: You're currently interning at the Pennsylvania Independent for the summer. What's it like to be back in the area again? What are you doing there, and what do you like about it?
JS: Working at the PA Independent is fantastic. Harrisburg is beautiful and it's only 90 minutes from my house. I recently finished a piece on the attempt in PA to privatize the government's complete control of the wine and liquor distribution and retail market. Interviewing politicians, unions, and lobbyists is really entertaining.
P: What would you see are some of the key differences, good and bad, between a place like New Orleans and your hometown? Do you have a favorite Louisiana dish, or vice versa?
JS: N. Potomac has a lot of green space, which is hard to come by in NOLA. But Nola has a lot of culture and charm, which is hard to come by in N. Potomac. I don't have a favorite La. dish, but a restaurant that I frequent there is an Italian place called Nonna Mia, which is in Mid-City. My favorite N. Potomac dish, cinnamon roasted butternut squash, can only be found at one location...my mother's kitchen. It's not for sale to the public.
P: What has inspired you to pursue a career in writing and journalism? What are some of your favorite topics?
JS: I love writing, researching, and interviewing. And I think I'm pretty good at it. Making money in journalism is the tough part, but loving it and being talented at it are reason enough to pursue it when I'm young. My favorite topic is politics. But I've covered many things, from pickup basketball to happiness.
P: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
JS: I encourage you to follow me on Twitter (@JBSichel) and to check out my blog at jaredsichel.com. Constructive criticism is always welcome. Also check out paindy.com and nextgenjournal.com.
Some of Sichel's work: