People may think that, by regularly watching the news, they learn all there is to know about the unfortunate happenings in the world. But hidden deep within the shadows of some countries are painful realities that can only be seen by those willing to travel straight to the heart of the matter.
One of those people is 35-year-old journalist Lisa Ling, who specializes in global issues. Ling, a special correspondent for “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and host of the National Geographic Channel’s “Explorer,” will speak on Thursday, Feb. 5 in the Vandament Arena at 7:30 p.m.
Titled “Lisa Ling: Opening Minds and Hearts to the Issues Surrounding Us,” the presentation will reveal what Ling has learned from her experience reporting on global issues.
The event is sponsored by Platform Personalities. Beau Niec, president of Platform, said Ling was an obvious choice because of the inspiring research and reporting she has done globally. Her relevance to the college generation was also a key factor.
“When (we) were all in high school, she was on Channel One News,” Niec said. “It was a good generation fit.”
Ling started her career at the age of 16, when she became host of a teen magazine show titled “Scratch.” Back then, she saw a career in television as an escape.
“When I was a kid, I grew up in a very challenged area,” Ling said. “I saw TV as a great way out.”
It wasn’t until she went on to become a reporter for Channel One News, shown in middle and high schools all over the United States, that her interest in journalism developed. Eventually, Ling became the channel’s war correspondent and did most of her reporting in other countries.
“(Channel One) changed my life . it gave me the opportunity to travel all over the world,” Ling said. “I remember a trip in ’94 to Afghanistan that was just so shocking . it completely propelled me to pursue journalism.”
After Channel One News, Ling shared her morning coffee with America as a co-host on Barbara Walters’ well known daytime talk show “The View.” Recently, she has lent her expertise to “Planet in Peril,” a hit series on CNN about environmental issues.
She has even teamed up with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN affiliate, to explore countries where wars are being fought merely for survival; like in Nigeria, a country that profits from a rich oil supply, but has one of the most corrupt governments in the world.
Through all of her experiences, Ling has kept consistent with her mission to share important global issues with all of America. From China’s one-child policy to drug wars in Columbia, she said they are all of equal importance to her.
“There are so many things going on in the world,” Ling said. “I think learning about these issues creates smarter, more well-rounded people. These days, people are so worried about college and getting the best career possible, but I guarantee the more you learn the more job opportunities you will get.”
As a student, Niec said he is interested in hearing about previously unheard problems happening around the world, such as bride burnings in India. Bride burnings are a form of domestic abuse where a husband burns his new wife if her family is unable to pay her dowry.
Ling, who recently attended the Inauguration of President Barack Obama, said that although she believes Obama is going to do great things for our country, she also feels sympathy for the issues he will have to face.
“It was so exciting to be alive to see that . I wanted to relish that moment because we can already see crisis all over,” Ling said. “My heart goes out to him because he has to face problems no other president has had to face.”
Professor Louise Bourgault, who teaches a class on global communication at NMU, said much of what she refers to in her class has to do with the same issues that concern Ling. She said that many of the problems stem from globalization.
“Companies have made money from the land and the biological needs of the people . the world is very polarized because of globalization,” Bourgault said. “In some groups, there is the resurgence of old practices . the weak are usually preyed upon, which oftentimes, are women.”
Bourgault said that Ling’s lecture is important because students need to know what is going on around the globe. She added that people should be equal throughout the world and should have compassion for one another.
“Human beings are fundamentally the same . it is when there is extreme lack of wealth and hunger that brings out extreme actions,” she said.
It is also crucial to have women such as Ling who set a strong example for upcoming generations, Bourgault said.
“I think it’s wonderful — I’m always pleased when we have female speakers,” Bourgault said. “We need good, strong female role models.”
When it comes to her presentation, Ling said students should come prepared to be enlightened.
“I hope students will allow me to take them all over the world,” Ling said. “Now it is more important than ever to know what is going on in the world.”
Besides a lecture, students can expect National Geographic footage from “Explorer” as well as a Q&A.
Students attending will get the chance to ask questions and maybe even become inspired enough to get involved, Niec said.
“I’m hoping (through the event) students will gain a greater understanding of global issues,” Niec said. “I think it will instill good messages about optimism and the blessings of living in America . it may be their only chance to hear about important and shocking things outside of the U.S. mainstream media.”