The class for my lecture today at Eastern Mediterranean University in northern Cyprus was full of surprises.
My first surprise was the composition of the class, which I had expected would consist of Turks and Turkish Cypriots. I was delighted to learn that EMU has an international student profile similar to
Park University, where I teach and direct the Center for Global Peace Journalism. The EMU students gathered to hear my lecture were from all over the world, including Nigeria, Iran, and Cameroon, just to name a few. As one might imagine, this diversity set the stage for some interesting discussions.
The second surprise was that the students were direct and open with me—again, in a way that reminded me of my Park students. (At many of my overseas lectures, students have been timid about questioning me.) The EMU students didn’t hesitate to challenge my theories of peace journalism, questioning among other things how it is possible to be a peace journalist without openly advocating peace, and how a peace journalists can claim to be objective. One sharp young lady even asked why peace journalists should “re-invent the wheel.” Interestingly, these are the exact words used by some of peace journalism’s most ardent critics in the UK.
I was also surprised by the question from one young man who wanted my opinion on what he said was U.S. government policy that he claims favors violence and instability in the upcoming Nigerian elections. I said that I am not a diplomat or a representative of the U.S. government, and thus have nothing substantive to say about any State Department policies. I encouraged him to send me the evidence of America’s supposed pro-violence policy in Nigeria. I eagerly await his email.
What did not surprise me was the quality of the discourse during my two-hour lecture. The students were engaged and thoughtful, and seemed to quickly absorb (and at times question) the key principles of peace journalism. My only regret is that I won’t see these students again, unless they decide to study abroad at Park University.