How an ICFJ Program Led to Quality Journalism and so Much More
In 2010, Syrian reporter Alia Turki Al-Rabeo traveled to Egypt to participate in ICFJ’s Reporting Across Cultures: Freedom of Expression in the Digital Age program, held in the famous Alexandria Library.
After taking part in an online course and an initial training session in Nepal, ICFJ selected Al-Rabeo and other top participants to attend the Alexandria conference, which focused on covering Muslim-West relations.
Upon her arrival at the conference, Alia teamed up with Armenian-American freelance journalist Ruzanna Tantushyan and Pakistani investigative reporter Naveed Ahmad.
From the very start, Alia says, she and Naveed just clicked. “I found him very professional and well-read. Besides, he is very humble and caring. His sense of humor and charismatic personality were the factors [that made me want to get] to know him better.”
Together, she, Naveed and Ruzanna produced a project called “End Prejudice.” They later transformed the project into a new site called “Silent Heroes, Invisible Bridges,” which featured print, audio and video stories that contradict religious and cultural stereotypes.
The site eventually won a United Nations X-Cultural Reporting Award, and Alia and Naveed went on to claim another, more personal reward.
In May of 2015, exactly five years after first working together at the Alexandria conference, Naveed and Alia got engaged. They were married in Istanbul on Alia’s birthday, July 18, 2015.
The couple still keep in touch online with friends from the ICFJ program that first brought them together.
Images courtesy of Naveed Ahmad and Alia Turki Al-Rabeo.