On February 10, a group of NYU Florence students had the pleasure of meeting Imma Vitelli, International Correspondent for Vanity Fair Italy, for breakfast following her Dialogue in The Arab Spring Series. Students asked questions about her experience as a war correspondent – “Are you ever afraid?”. Her reply: “If you are afraid, you don’t go into this line of work” – and what she thinks the future holds for Middle Eastern countries undergoing transition – Her simple answer: “I don’t know.” The very frank and lively conversation provided students insight into what is going on on the ground and challenged some of their assumptions. Other issues discussed: the role the media plays in shaping public perceptions and the challenges journalists face when reporting from a conflict zone. The stories of the people she met along the way gave the uprisings a human face and provided a deeper insight into the experience, motivations, challenges and successes of the protesters.
By Kate Lardner, NYU Florence Student
Reading and writing is something that almost every person in North America does on a daily basis, yet it’s rarely something that is discussed on any kind of level with the exception of politicians “outraged” by the illiteracy rates in their country. But in a Dialogue Monday night, Pete Hamill talked about where these two subjects come from and how they affect our lives. Everyone has that one book that gets them hooked on reading, for Hamill it was Babar. Even though at first he couldn’t read the words, he understood the pictures of Babar’s mother being killed and Babar visiting Paris, and because of that Hamill “… still hate[s] guns and [he] still love[s] Paris.” Hamill also compared fiction and journalism and talked about how you can find inspiration in anything around you if you only open your eyes and your imagination. Growing up in Brooklyn, Hamill had firsthand experience of being raised in a working class family. However, he made a point of saying that just because you are poor doesn’t mean that you are impoverished and that your life couldn’t be rich. Even though the title of the Dialogue was Fiction and Journalism, it was really about the importance of reading and how it can change your life.