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School of Communication, Media & Politics
By Tessa Perkins Deneault
Aya Nader Sharaby says she never would have thought about visiting China, let alone living there for a year, if it weren’t for SFU’s Global Communication double master’s degree program. Now, after two years of studying at both SFU and the Communication University of China (CUC), and gaining work experience during field placements at the Globe and Mail’s Beijing bureau and Canada’s National Observer, she will graduate with two master’s degrees.
Sharaby began her journalism career at Daily News Egypt, Egypt’s only English-language daily independent newspaper. She was working as a journalist and halfway through a master’s degree at the American University in Cairo when she learned about SFU’s unique Global Communication MA program and decided to pack her bags.
“The Global Communication program was of specific interest to me for the opportunity to learn about new cultures, unravel media practices from different parts of the world, and perhaps speak a bit of Mandarin,” she says. “The program seemed, and proved to be, less western-centric than many others in North America. This also came at a time when President Trump was banning certain nationals from going into the U.S., including scientists and academics.”
Sharaby’s journalism work prior to SFU focused on human rights, environmental issues, and gender equality. At SFU, her research explored Muslim-Christian relations in Egypt, mainstream media coverage of sectarian conflict, and the press' complicity in perpetuating conditions that aggravate violence through the denial and obfuscation of existing sectarian problems. Her capstone project addressed these issues to find ways that the media can advocate for more inclusion and mitigate conflict.
“My research has made me more conscious of how I report on matters and how I describe people.”
In “Peace Heroes,” a series for the International Civil Society Action Network (some of which was published in Ms. Magazine), she interviewed women in the peace and security field, including Canadian senator Mobina Jaffer, about their efforts to prevent radicalism and to counter extremism.
During her field placement at the National Observer, she reported on demonstrations happening in Vancouver and wrote an article about award-winning author Michael Adams’s new book, Could it happen here? Canada in the age of Trump and Brexit. Her second field placement at the Vancouver Aquarium focused on environmental communication.
In Beijing, she worked alongside correspondent Nathan Vanderklippe during her field placement at the Globe and Mail. She put her language skills and knowledge of Arabs and the Middle East to use by contributing to articles, interviewing sources, and translating content from English to Arabic and vice versa.
Sharaby is ready to become further involved in Canadian politics and society and plans to start a PhD at SFU next year. One of her goals is to write for a media platform in Canada where she can contribute her insights from the Middle East and the Arab world.
“During my time at SFU, I learned more about Canada, its government, its media, and its society. I met people from so many corners of the world, whether colleagues, students, or professors, and with that I gained a new perspective on so many cultures,” she says. “Our discussions influenced my worldview. They gave me new ideas for articles, and with them fresh angles.”