In an era of cell phones and instant worldwide communication, the role media plays in a constantly shifting political landscape becomes more and more pronounced as time goes by, and for Grade 11 David Thompson Secondary School student Megan Kinley, learning more about that role was a truly eye-opening experience.
“[Media] can be a positive or negative thing, and you have to be aware of how to use it,” Kinley said.
Kinley recently returned from the Rotary-sponsored 2012 World Affairs Seminar, where she spent a week at Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin. This year, the theme of the event was about how media impacts global issues, something Kinley found very interesting as she is considering a future in journalism.
“One of the biggest reasons I went is because I’m interested in journalism and I think that the theme was especially related,” Kinley said. “It’s a good experience for any profession though, because it really widens your horizons.”
The seminar, which was attended by high school students from around the world, gave youth aged 16 to 18 a chance to hear from a very distinguished list of guest speakers, including one with a PhD in international relations and negotiation, and the director of programming for the US Navy. One speaker who Kinley found especially interesting was a journalist from Egypt named Sahar Maher El-Issawi. El-Issawi, a journalist, blogger, trainer and activist, was one of hundreds of thousands of Egyptians who took to the streets to protest the nearly 30-year rule of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during the Arab Spring of 2011. Mubarak was later deposed as a result of the revolution, and Kinley said this was a particularly powerful example of the role media can play in modern politics.
“They were saying that it’s a changing world, and we can use [media] for good and for bad,” Kinley explained. “With the Arab Spring, the revolution was kind of begun through media, but it can be abused in some cases.”
Students were treated to one to two guest speakers a day and also participated in a number of more focused group workshops with students from other countries. Kinley also recently returned from a similar workshop in Squamish and said the two seminars will have a profound effect on the path she hopes to take towards a future career.
“It was really interesting for me, because it shifted what I want to do in journalism — now I’m sort of thinking of doing something with human rights through journalism,” Kinley said. “One of the biggest themes was there are no simple solutions to complex problems… you have to look at all aspects of an issue before you can understand it fully. If you just come up with a simple solution it’s probably going to make the problem worse.”