The Cougar Chronicle

Veteran journalist Ling delivers powerful speech at Women Breaking Boundaries event

Mekala Lehmunn, Staff Writer

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For 90 minutes, world-renowned news correspondent and former co-host of ABC’s The View, Lisa Ling, captivated an audience of almost 350 attendees with tales of war, compassion and struggle during this semester’s Women Breaking Boundaries (WBB) event.

This Arts and Lectures Series presentation, the fourth so far this spring, commemorated Women’s “Herstory” Month on March 19 in inspirational fashion.

Christine Lee, CSUSM’s Community Outreach & Communications Liaison, said that each WBB event tends to focus on women in “nontraditional careers.” As a veteran journalist and current host of “This is Life with Lisa Ling” on CNN, Ling has achieved international fame in a career biased toward white males.

The USU Ballroom audience consisted mostly of women. Senior Musab Aljoharfrom Saudi Arabia and one of the few male attendees, came because he is “an international student and want[ed] to learn more about women’s issues.”

Vice President of Community Engagement Patricia Prada-Olmos offered a brief history of the Women Breaking Boundaries program before introducing Ling.

After a summary of her childhood in Carmichael, California, Ling explained how she began traveling the world at 18 as a reporter for “Channel One News,” a news platform for adolescents created in 1990 and viewed primarily in elementary, middle and high schools. “The best education I received is through travel,” said Ling.

As a “Channel One News” foreign correspondent, Ling arrived in Afghanistan to report on the nation’s civil war in 1994. She described how her plane was “greeted by throngs of young boys carrying weapons literally larger than they were.”

 

Upon returning to the United States,she tried to discuss her experiences with others, but they struggled to understand and knew little about Afghanistan or the war. This ignorance encouraged Ling to continue promoting awareness of global issues as a reporter.

In the early 2000s as the host of documentary series “National Geographic Explorer,” Ling traveled to China to research the practice of parents aborting or abandoning female infants in response to the one-child policy.

 

She discovered while interviewing Chinese mothers who had given up baby girls that although these separations were painful, the economic advantages to having sons made the decision less difficult.

 

This insight helped Ling remove what she called her “American-styled glasses” – or cultural bias in favor of American values – and “open her mind to the world.”

 

Ling also discussed working as an undercover journalist in North Korea, visiting correctional facilities around the world, interviewing the homeless and documenting prostitution and sex trafficking in the United States and abroad.

She encouraged the audience members to study global events, “leave [their] comfort zones” by exploring the world and get to know a variety of people. “The more we learn about each other,” said Ling, “the smarter we are, the more well-rounded we are, and the better we are.”

Ling ended her presentation with a quote from Oprah Winfrey: “Now that you know [these stories and facts], you can’t pretend that you don’t.”

During the short Q&A session that followed, several women expressed appreciation that Ling spreads awareness of issues that the public ignores, particularly prostitution and sex trafficking.

After the event ended, Lindsey Cain, an environmental studies junior, said, “[Ling’s presentation] inspired me to think about issues that I wouldn’t normally think about.”

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