Dima El-Awar, 21, stands in front of the camera with confidence and ease. In addition to being a good public speaker, a skill that every journalist tries to master, Dima is keen to promote positive speech and accurate information. Originally from Falougha, a small village in Mount Lebanon, Dima was hesitant to pursue her dream career in journalism because she thought she was not good enough for the job.
“When I was a young girl, I always received hateful comments about my personality and my style of dress. Some told me I was too loud, others that I didn’t meet the beauty standards of TV personalities and public figures because I didn’t dress like other girls. I used to feel bitter after receiving such comments in the past, but today I smile and respond positively, with the aim of changing the attitude of others,” he explains. -she.
Before coming to terms with these negative comments, she studied Chinese translation instead of journalism. Over time, she realized that she shouldn’t have given up on her dream because of other people’s opinions, so she turned to journalism studies. “I didn’t want to regret not pursuing my passion when I was older, so I decided to ignore other people’s opinions and listen to my inner voice,” she smiles.
Countering misinformation with positive discourse
At a training session to help young people tackle hate speech and misinformation as part of the project “Youth Countering Hate Speech and Misinformation”organized by UN Lebanon, through the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Dima El-Awar listened to other people’s experiences with hate speech and realized that everyone is susceptible to hate.
During the session, she was able to learn about the different forms of hate speech, their impact on people, and ways to become more resilient and skilled in dealing with it. “When I realized that hate speech expresses the other person’s problems rather than my own, I started to accept myself. I also started accepting others for who they are and seeing the beauty in everyone,” she says.
The training made her realize that she had made the right decision in going into journalism, because “journalism can counter hate speech and misinformation with positive and accurate speech”. It also helped to make him aware of the importance of combating hate speech and ending “bullying, destructive criticism and the marginalization of any person because of their identity”.
May Chidiac Foundation – Media Institute
The powerful voice of young people
UN Lebanon trained 15 young people from different regions and universities in Lebanon on media and information literacy, access to information, countering hate speech and countering disinformation. Under this project, young participants produced 12 social media episodes on hate speech and misinformation after being trained in technical strategies for producing social media segments.
Dima has always been passionate about making a positive impact on his community, which was evident in his volunteering with the Lebanese Red Cross in Falougha as a paramedic and emergency medical services volunteer during of the last seven years. “Volunteering allows me to be close to people. Through volunteering, I can show solidarity with people of all ages, genders and socio-economic classes,” she says proudly.
Convinced of the importance of giving back to her community, the young woman is eager to counter hate speech as a young and future journalist. “Young people can play a major role in the fight against hate speech because they represent the future generation. They also have the power to change perspectives, are resilient and accept diversity,” she explains. After overcoming the influence of hate speech, she is now more confident to stand in front of the camera, and to showcase the beauty of Lebanon.