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Arwa Damon Receives Award
By George H. Damon 06-Jan-15
Arwa Damon, CNN’s Emmy Award winning Senior International Correspondent, is an example of how international school and life experiences can build an understanding of the interconnectedness of life, the importance of our similarities over our differences, the value of free expression and the responsibility it brings, as well as the humanity that exists in every situation. Currently working and living in Beirut, Arwa is the recipient of the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) “Courage in Journalism” award, which celebrates the courage of journalists facing incredible dangers in pursuing a story. Arwa’s reporting has taken her to countries where few, if any, laws exist to protect press freedoms; where journalists face constant intimidation and the possibility of imprisonment; and where she could at times find a price on her head. Born in Boston, Massachusetts to an American father and a Syrian mother (Arwa’s grandfather was former Syrian Prime Minister, Muhsin al-Barazi, assassinated in a military coup in 1949), Arwa spent much of her formative years traveling and living abroad, attending international schools in Rabat, Morocco (Rabat American School) and Istanbul, Turkey (Robert College). During this time, she gained command over four languages: Arabic, English, French, and Turkish. Arwa’s strong international schooling allowed her to graduate with honors from Skidmore College in New York with a double major in French and Biology, and a minor in International Affairs. Following graduation, she went to work in New York City. With the events of 9/11, everything changed in Arwa’s world, and she turned to journalism as a means of communicating with the world. Her language facility opened up an opportunity at Camera Planet, an international media company from which she launched her new career. In an interview with Tania Hussein of the IWMF, Arwa stated “I was living in New York. Afghanistan had happened, and the United States was gearing up for war in Iraq. Being an Arab American, I grew up deeply entrenched in both cultures and felt an inexplicable sense to a certain degree—a desire, a need—to go out there, and because of my own personal life experiences, to try to build cross-cultural bridges of understanding and compassion.” Arwa started her career as a freelance producer in Iraq in 2003, and by 2006 was working full time as a correspondent for CNN. Her work at CNN has led her to cover stories throughout the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa, ranging from conflicts to climate change to ivory smuggling. In the case of the Middle East, she describes in her interview with the IWMF why she feels it is so important to humanize each story. “When it comes to the Middle East, the problems there are so multi-faceted and so difficult to understand that often there is a sense that it is too overwhelming to cover—and it’s not, because every issue can be simplified and described in the story of a single individual. The story of the child who, all of a sudden, looks up to the sky as jets are flying overhead and points to barrel bombs—it’s a sickening twisted game that they play, ‘Where’s the bomb going to land next?’—and others who find themselves convulsing in fears that they don’t understand. We need to continue to strive to tell these different stories.” Arwa understands the power of being a journalist, and is willing to risk her life to bring “the true story from the victim’s eyes.” Arwa Damon is the daughter of George Damon, a longtime international schools administrator, most recently of ACS Beirut.
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