Dima El-Awar, 21 years old, stands in front of the camera confidently and comfortably. In addition to being a good speaker, a skill every journalist strives to master, Dima is also interested in promoting positive speech and accurate information. Coming from Falougha, a small village in the mountains of Lebanon, El-Awar was hesitant to pursue his dream of journalism because he thought he was not good enough for the job.
“As a young girl, I always received hateful comments about my personality and style of dress. Some people told me I was too loud; Others say that I don’t fit the beauty standards of TV personalities and public figures because I don’t dress like other girls. I used to feel bitter about receiving such comments in the past, but today I smile and respond positively, to try to change the attitude of others,” Ms. El-Awar said. .
Before reconciling with these negative comments, she studied Chinese translation instead of journalism. With time, she realized that she shouldn’t give up her dream because of other people’s opinions, so she switched to studying journalism. “I didn’t want to regret not following my passion in my old age, so I decided to go beyond other people’s opinions and listen to my inner voice,” said El-Awar, laughing. .
Combat misinformation through positive speech
During a training session aimed at helping youth combat hate speech and misinformation in the project “Youth Against Hate Speech and Misinformation” organized by the United Nations of Lebanon, through the Organization United Nations Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO), Ms. El-Awar listened to other people’s experiences with hate speech and realized that everyone is vulnerable to hate.
During the session, Ms. El-Awar learned about the different forms of hate speech, its impact on people, and how to become more resilient and skillful in dealing with it. “When I understood that hate speech represented someone else’s problem and not mine, I began to accept myself. I also started accepting other people for who they are and seeing the beauty in people,” she said.
The training helped her realize that she made the right decision to switch to journalism because “journalism can fight hate speech and misinformation through positive speech and accuracy.” It also helped raise her awareness of the importance of fighting hate speech and ending “bullying, destructive criticism and marginalizing anyone based on their identity.”
May Chidiac Foundation- Institute of Communication
The strong voice of youth
UN Lebanon trained 15 young people from different regions and universities in Lebanon in media and information literacy, access to information, combating hate speech and combating misinformation . According to this project, the young people involved produced 12 episodes on social media about hate speech and disinformation after they were trained in technical strategies for producing online segments. society.
Ms. El-Awar has always been interested in making a positive impact on her community and this has been shown in her volunteering with the Lebanese Red Cross in Falougha as a medical service volunteer. emergency and emergency medical care for the past seven years. “Volunteering allows me to be close to people. Through volunteering, I am able to show solidarity with people of all ages, genders and socioeconomic classes,” she said with pride.
As a believer in the importance of giving back to the community, El-Awar aspires to combat hate speech as a young person and a future journalist. “Young people can play an important role in fighting hate speech because they are the future generation. They also have the ability to change perspective, be resilient, and embrace diversity,” she says. After overcoming the effects of hate speech, El-Awar is now more confident in front of the camera and highlighting the beauty of Lebanon.