Nahlah Ayed stresses the importance of travel

Nahlah Ayed, CBC foreign correspondent and this year’s lecturer for the tenth annual Dalton Camp Lecture in Journalism, says it’s important for Canadian students to learn about what’s going on around the world, including the Middle East.

“We cannot turn a blind eye even if we wanted to, because what happens there echoes here. It’s our business too and we must pay attention,” Ayed said in an email.

In Ayed’s lecture “Yes, I Will Wait: In praise of long journeys, long interviews – and a longer stay,” Ayed will talk about her seven years working as a foreign correspondent with the CBC.

Ayed, now The National’s correspondent in Toronto, has spent extensive time working in the Middle East for different journalism mediums for the CBC. She covered multiple countries including Iraq, Libya, Egypt and Gaza.

She says she’s learned a lot about the world from her work as a journalist in Canada and the Middle East. She published a book this year on her experiences in the Middle East, titled A Thousand Farewells: A Reporter’s Journey from Refugee Camp to the Arab Spring.

“Personally, one of the key things I have learned is that we are incredibly lucky to have been born in Canada.”

Ayed says there are many skills journalists can acquire to put them in an advantageous position to becoming foreign correspondents.

“Definitely learn a second and even a third language. It helps to specialize early, make yourself expert on a region or an international topic. Travel as much as you can and write from wherever you go.”

Ayed is fluent in English and Arabic. She was born in Winnipeg, but moved to a refugee camp in Jordan with her family, at six years old. She graduated from Carleton University’s Master of Journalism program and has a masters in interdisciplinary studies and a Bachelor of Science in genetics from the University of Manitoba.

She says that you must treat “every position, every freelance gig and every internship as a stepping stone towards becoming a foreign correspondent.”

Ayed says she feels grateful to present the lecture to the STU community.

“I am honoured to have been invited to give this lecture, to stand in the footsteps of some icons of journalism, many of whom were or are role models for me.”

Previous speakers include Joe Schlesinger, June Callwood, Naomi Klein, Roy MacGregor, Chantal Hébert, Ken Whyte, Sue Gardner, Stephanie Nolen, and Neil Reynolds.

The Dalton Camp Lecture is on Nov. 7 at 8 p.m. in the Kinsella Auditorium.

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