Jada Yuan might just have the best job on the planet.
Last year, more than 13,000 people applied for the illustrious position of “52 Places” correspondent for The New York Times. Whoever was picked for the job would get to travel the globe in 2018, visiting a new city each week for the entire year. In the end, the enviable position went to Yuan, a 39-year-old New Mexico native who has spent much of her journalism career writing about entertainment in New York City.
On Jan. 12, The New York Times introduced its intrepid new travel reporter to the world.
— New York Times Travel (@nytimestravel) January 13, 2018
The cities Yuan will get to visit—and be paid to experience—are those found in the newspaper’s definitive “52 Places to Visit” list, which travel junkies lust over every year. When The New York Times first announced that it was seeking a correspondent for this position, writers everywhere flew into action. The woman who landed the job hails from a small rural town that didn’t even have paved roads until Yuan was almost a teenager.
But Yuan left her hometown to attend college, and after that, she landed a job at New York Magazine as an entertainment reporter. In that capacity, she’s covered events like the Sundance and Cannes Film Festivals and has written about not only high-profile events, but also the host cities and the people who live nearby. For 17 years, Yuan excelled in this position, and it was this experience that caught the eye of The New York Times.
“The job description said that they were looking for someone who could parachute into a place and distill its essence pretty much immediately upon arriving. And that’s just a lot of what, as an entertainment reporter working in film festivals, I’ve done … I had to figure out the lay of the land. I didn’t know how to get around. I didn’t understand the subway systems. I didn’t know how to speak French when I got to Cannes … And I just figured it out.”
In addition, Yuan thinks that the newspaper’s staff was searching for someone who would never be able to take an around-the-world trip if not for this experience. She definitely fit that bill, and said the idea of such a journey was “unfathomable.”
The writer begins her “52 Places” journey in New Orleans and after that, she will be globetrotting to places like Colombia, Switzerland, Southern Italy, South Korea, Scotland and Cambodia. Along the way, Yuan will be documenting her experiences and writing about these cities and the people she meets on her journey. If you want to follow along, be sure to follow Yuan’s progress via The New York Times or on her Twitter page.
Congratulations, Jada Yuan! Don’t forget your toothbrush.