I will be a junior at Bowdoin College in fall and this summer, I am teaching journalism, a discipline I have come to passionately love, at the Al-Imtiaz Academy located in my hometown Abbottabad, Pakistan. I am grateful to the generous funds provided by philanthropist Kathryn Wesserman Davis who has made this opportunity possible for me. As one of the 100 Davis Projects for Peace recipients, I embarked on this project with the intention of teaching the Pakistani children what journalism is and how to ethically practice it. My goal is to give the students of the Al-Imtiaz Academy a voice by helping them start their very first school newspaper.
The idea of a ‘school newspaper’ is new to these students, who are used to attending school purely for academic studies. Opening up this extracurricular activity will allow them to not only apply their English skills in a new and exciting manner, but also learn how to report the truth – after all, journalism is all about telling the truth. In an increasingly globalized world, there is a dire need for honest and substantive reporting. In Pakistan especially, reporting the truth has become a deadly profession. For example, the recent headlines about journalist Saleem Shahzad’s death – supposedly schemed by Pakistan’s intelligence agency – is but one the many cases of what happens when bitter truth is told. These cases, however, do not discourage me or thousands of other journalists but rather inspire us to continue in our pursuit.
I hope to teach my students the value of this pursuit, especially since the format of disseminating information is changing. Broadcast and online journalism are quickly replacing the traditional way of being aware of obtaining news. No longer are people enjoying their morning coffee with a newspaper in their hand; instead, radios are blasted during the commute to work, hand-held devices are tapped with fingers, and television volumes are turned up after dinner. Of the plethora of information our brains intake daily, it’s important to decipher between fact and opinion, news and advertisement, truth and sensationalism. The ability to critically distinguish truth from all else is a paramount goal of my program.
In this blog, my students are going to tell you what they are learning and doing in class. Be it the daily lessons, homework assignments, class discussions, or the current events quizzes, this blog is an opportunity for the students of the Al-Imtiaz Academy to tell their story. Enjoy!
Mariya Ilyas ’13