Stephanie Caspelich

Reporting the news that matters.

Archive for March 2012

The Lost Boys of Sudan: A Story of Survival, Resettlement and the Ongoing Struggle to Promote Peace in South Sudan

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The voices of South Sudan filled the halls of St. Paul’s Church by-the-Lake.

It was Sunday and a small group of refugees from South Sudan gathered at the Episcopal Church in Rogers Park, one of the most culturally and economically diverse neighborhoods on the far north side of Chicago. Most of the parishioners are male between the ages of 30 and 35. They have come to sing hymns and read the gospel of the week in Dinka, the dialect of South Sudan’s major ethnic group.

“The church has been our place of refuge since most of us arrived in Chicago in 2001,” said The Rev. Awan Abraham, 33, a deacon from South Sudan. “We use to have our community gatherings in the rectory on Thursday evenings, but the volunteers stopped coming in 2007. We have since transitioned to this more prayerful format.”

The Lost Boys of Sudan is a term given by aid workers in refugee camps to more than 20,000 young boys who were displaced during Sudan’s second civil war from 1983 to 2005. The children were caught in the middle of the conflict between the Islamic central Sudanese government led by Prime Minister Sadiq Al-Mahdi and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army  led by rebel leader John Garang.

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Avirama Golan: Wielding the Power of the Written Word

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In her 30 years of journalistic experience, Avirama Golan has been an active witness to the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo, armed rebellion in Albania to thousands in Tel Aviv protesting the high cost of living in Israel. She has faced the most challenging conditions with fearless persistence to report one thing: the real story.

“Never imagine you know something before you see it,” said Golan, a senior correspondent for Haaretz, Israel’s oldest newspaper. “Trust your own eyes.”

Golan, 61, studied literature at Tel Aviv University and later completed her French literature studies in Paris, where she worked as a correspondent for a weekly magazine. Upon returning to Israel, she worked as correspondent and editor for Davar, which she described as a “socialist labor party newspaper.”

In 1991, she moved to Haaretz as a correspondent reporting on welfare and society issues, the Jewish Orthodox sector, issues of church and state in Israel and feminist issues. She describes Haaretz as an “independent, liberal newspaper concerned with human rights and economic democracy.”

Golan shared her experiences and lessons learned in the field with students from Professor Jacquelyn Spinner’s International Reporting class at Columbia College Chicago on Tuesday.

“Time, space and curiosity are essential to tell the story,” Golan said. “As journalists, we must have the knowledge to interpret and analyze what we see. We must be involved in society.”

She also talked about a project where Palestinian and Israeli female journalists had the opportunity to exchange ideas, share experiences and expertise and enhance their professional skills in a mixed environment. Golan learned that Palestinian news at present could be compared to the Israeli press in the 1950s because it is entirely controlled by the government. “A free press is our dream for the Palestinian state,” Golan said.


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Stephanie Caspelich

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A compilation of current reporting and archived published work of journalist Nate Thayer