Ayed stresses patience

Nahlah Ayed shared her experiences as a journalist (Jonathan Munn/AQ)

Nahlah Ayed, veteran journalist, spoke on the importance of patience in the Middle East to a full auditorium at St. Thomas University on Wednesday.

The CBC foreign correspondent delivered the tenth annual Dalton Camp lecture on the importance of waiting and staying long enough. This year also marks ten years since Ayed left for the Middle East.

“The longer we stay in the places we cover and the more often we go back, at least the more we know and the better our stories,” Ayed said, dressed in all black with simple jewelry.

Ayed spent seven years covering the Middle East, but only planned to stay for a couple. She has been attacked, fallen off a roof and seen years-worth of violence. She says she learned how to do her job the hard way.

“You have to be so much more than a foreign correspondent.”

The 42-year-old planned to be a doctor, but changed her mind after writing for her school newspaper. While born in Winnipeg, she moved to Jordan at six years old.

Ayed’s fluency in English and Arabic was beneficial but sometimes people wanted to know exactly where she was from, which took away from her work. She says the best skill to have as a foreign correspondent is problem-solving.

“If you did not know how to solve problems, then you will most likely fail as a foreign correspondent.”

She said she spent a lot of time waiting but it was worth every minute. The people in the Middle East had waited 40 years to tell their stories, so she could wait 40 minutes.

Ayed described every day as a battle. She drove for days, didn’t sleep, and spent too much money just to get stories.
“I often thought it was a miracle when we got a story out in the Middle East.”

The lecture was taped for CBC’s radio show Ideas.

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