Americans hope Obama will address the economy in inaugural address

It’s been more than a month since Election Day, but the economy is still the number one issue Americans are looking to hear about from Obama when he delivers his inaugural speech on January 20.

“I would like to see him touch on his plans for the economy,” said Adam Short, a lecturer in political science at Elon University. “He has stayed in the background in the past few weeks on the auto bailout and plans for an economic stimulus package, so I would like to know more on day one what his plans are.”

Tony Williams, an employee at Wal-Mart from Burlington, North Carolina, agrees that the economy should be the top issue for Obama to address.

“I’d like him to talk about the economy, to continue to do the things that are necessary to get the economy back on track,” Williams said.

Tony Williams, Air Force veteran and Wal-Mart employee from Burlington, North Carolina, discusses what he would like to hear Obama talk about during the his inaugural speech.

Tony Williams, Air Force veteran and Wal-Mart employee from Burlington, North Carolina, discusses what he would like to hear Obama talk about during the his inaugural speech.

Williams, a veteran of the United States Air Force, also says Obama needs to address his course of action in removing troops from Iraq.

“[He should] also concentrate on getting the military people out of Iraq. I don’t feel like they should have been there to start with,” Williams said.

Obama made the campaign promise of a 16-month timetable to remove U.S. combat troops from Iraq.

Harlen Makemson, an assistant professor in the School of Communications at Elon, also wants to hear more on the specifics of Obama’s economic plan.

“I’m encouraged by the people he’s putting into place but the problems are so many and so immense I’d like to know where he’s going to go first to tackle these sorts of things,” Makemson said.

Makemson also hopes that Obama will help bridge the divide between conservatives and liberals.

“There seems to be some good things he’s done on that aspect as well but I think there’s so much work to be done and I worry sometimes that perhaps its too big to be crossed,” said Makemson.

Even those who supported McCain are ready to hear about Obama’s plans for the economy. Joni Grooms, a McCain supporter during the election, wants to hear more of the specifics on how Obama will manage the economy.

“Mainly what I would like him to talk about is how he’s going to pay for all of the things he’s proposing; the new jobs and the changes for America and how he’s going to pay for them,” said Grooms.

Pauli Hawkins, a Wal-Mart employee from Burlington, North Carolina, wants to hear about Obama’s plans for job creation.

“What’s he going to do to help people with jobs?” Hawkins said.

Hawkins supported Obama during the election and has high hopes for the president-elect.

“He’s such a good man, anything he says I’ll be happy with.  We have someone now who I can understand and who is intelligent, for the first time in a decade,” said Hawkins.

Mary Morrison, director of the Kernodle Center for Service Learning, hopes that Obama will address public service.

“My hope is that Barack Obama will be able to inspire a whole new generation of people who are committed to public service, [that he] can restore the next generation’s belief in government and the power of government and also in their own efficacy for addressing issues on a local level,” Morrison said.

Brian Collins, associate director of Residence Life for community building at Elon, wants to know what Obama will do to improve America’s standing in the global community.

“I’m hoping that he talks about improving the way America is viewed by the rest of the world and talks about how we need to come together as a community and that there is a world community and that we all play a part in that,” said Collins.

Brian Collins, associate director of Residence Life for community building at Elon, on his hopes that Obama will address America's role in the global community during his inaugural speech.

Brian Collins, associate director of Residence Life for community building at Elon, on his hopes that Obama will address America's role in the global community during his inaugural speech.

Elon senior, Chika Kusakawa, says that, judging from his Election Day speech, Obama should handle the inaugural speech well.

“I think he’s always a good speaker and very motivational. I’m sure he’ll say what his goals are, what he plans on doing, and how he plans on achieving those goals,“ Kusakawa said.

With the continuing dismal news coming from the economy, it’s no surprise that American’s are ready to hear Obama’s specific course of action.  With more than a month to go until inauguration, most Americans are ready to hear the leadership Obama plans to take to halt the economic recession.


Leave a comment

Filed under Politics

What Elon U. means to Elon, NC

Exploring the university’s relationship with the town of Elon and surrounding communities.
by Dan Rickershauser

It’s a quiet day in late August as storefronts raise their signs of “Welcome Back Elon Students”. For the small town of Elon, it’s a storm of thousands of students, some new to the area, returning to the Elon University campus. But what exactly does this onslaught of students mean to the community?

This graph shows the uneven population distribution by age. Elon students make up a large number of Elon's population. Source:

In 2007, WFMY News 2 ran a newscast on excessive student drinking at Elon University. It focused on the student body of Elon to highlight what has become a problem on campuses around the nation. While stories like this and other press coverage can focus on the negative, coverage sometimes overlooks the positive things students contribute can to their community.

Town Student Committee to improve relations with Elon residents.

“I dont think the town’s relationship with the school is strained, nor have I noticed a strain,” Elon senior Torin Reedstrom said.

Reedstrom will be an Elon student chair for the future Town Student Committee, which hopes to improve relations between Elon’s student off-campus residents and Elon’s permanent residents.

“What this committee will try and address is student concerns and issues who live within the town of Elon,” said Reedstrom. “We want to catch and address these concerns and issues before they create a strain on the relationship that the school and the town have.”

Assistant Vice President for Student Life Jana Lynn Patterson has helped to form this group and has worked as the liaison for the town.

Patterson says the committee will help students learn about what their expectations are living in town and being a good neighbor.

“When I would deal with student complaints a couple years ago I found that students just didn’t really understand what the ordinances and things like that were,” said Patterson. “I think the first step is just helping students understand the ordinances. If students know what there expectations are they meet them.”

According to Dean Patterson, the majority of the complaints she hears about are related to trash and garbage issues. As students left for the end of the semester last year, many complaints came in from the town about trash that hadn’t been picked up.

“We really don’t get big complaints about big parties. We got a few earlier in the semester and the community policing officer just went and talked to the kids and they were fine,” said Patterson.

The Town Student Committee will also give students a voice in the town.

“As there is talk about developing the downtown more, we want students to be able to have a conversation about what that might look like,” said Patterson.

Dean Patterson said she also has received complaints from three different students from three different apartment complexes about no recycling program. She hopes this is something the Town Student Committee will be able to address.

To help improve our standing with the town, Patterson has contributed to the town newsletter on the types of things Elon students are involved in.

“I think we have an opportunity to help people understand the good things our students are doing,” said Patterson.

“I think the mayor and the board of alderman understand that they have to appeal to the concerns of different lifestyles of the townspeople,” said Patterson. “But I think they also have a great appreciation for our students and the richness that they bring to our community. It’s a tough balance for them sometimes.”

The good things: The service Elon students’ contribute to the community.

One of the school’s biggest contributions to the community has been the service that Elon students do. Last year alone, 2,847 students participated in service, with 90,184 hours of service reported. While this number includes service Elon students have done everywhere, a large amount of this service has been done within Alamance County. The number includes service done by many different organizations, including Greek Life and other organizations.

“I think for a school this size, that’s a pretty impressive number,” Mary Morrison, Director of the Kernodle Center for Service Learning.

“I think it builds a lot of good will, with community people that have had an opportunity to work with our students,” Morrison said. “Many of our community partners express that they depend on Elon Volunteers to get their work accomplished.”

This year, Elon Volunteers celebrates its 20th anniversary. The group was founded by Chaplain McBride and Elon student, John Barnhill.

“They felt that service was an important part of an Elon education,” Morrison said. “Jimmy Carter had been on our campus talking about Habitat for Humanity, so they started a habitat for humanity chapter along with Elon volunteers at the same time.”

Morrison believes that service is a vital part of the education students receive at Elon.

“The only way to really learn how to be part of a community is to volunteer with the community,” Morrison said. “You have to become engaged with community in order to understand how it works, how you get things done and how you make change.”

While community service is done all across the nation by Elon students, the LINCs program, or Leaders in Collaborative Service, works with various non-profit organizations in Alamance County to help bring in Elon students to volunteer.


For Elon junior Patrick Berrier, service to the community in Alamance county began before he even started school as an Elon freshman. Berrier, along with other incoming freshman, did community service with the annual Pre-serve program.

“It’s a week over the summer that we came and worked with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Boys and Girls club, and worked at a retirement home,” Berrier said.

Today, Berrier is the Secretary for the Human Service Society, as well as a member of Habitat for Humanity.

“I grew up in a Methodist church where a lot of community service was really important. I feel like those ideals are still at Elon, so I just continue with [community service] here,” Berrier said. “It’s nice to go out and help other people who may not be as fortunate or well off as me or a lot of students at Elon.”

According to Mary Morrison, service-learning can play an important role in an education at Elon.

“The only way to really learn how to be part of a community is to volunteer with the community. You have to become engaged with community in order to understand how that works and how you get things done and how you make change,” Morrison said.

“I think it’s a vital part of what Elon is trying to accomplish, in terms of preparing our students to make a difference after their time at Elon.”

Living in Elon from both perspectives

For Elon Junior Palmer Dillon, going to college didn’t mean going far from home. Dillon has lived at Elon since 1990. Dillion’s mother, like many others in the community, has been a long-time employee of Elon University and currently works with the Teaching Fellows program. According to, Elon University is the largest employer for the town of Elon.

Dylan had many positive experiences attending school events at Elon.

“When I was growing up I would go to baseball games and basketball games,” said Dillon.

Dillon is a 2006 graduate of Western Alamance High School. Although Dillon never left his hometown when going off to college, he does say that it can feel like a different place.

Dillon does consider living at Elon different while attending Elon University. For him, attending Elon University means you are in the “Elon Bubble”, a phrase coined for the limited interaction students have with members of the town and sorrounding area.

“Elon’s really like it’s own world,” he said. “That’s what I realized once I got here is that it really was, nobody really mixes with the town and the town doesn’t really mix with us.”

With all the community service students contribute and in many other ways, students do interact with the town and other residents in Alamance County. But according to many others, it’s still the “Elon Bubble”.

1 Comment

Filed under community

Silly name to semi-addiction: My day of Twitter

by Dan Rickershauser

My Twitter page. You can see everyones latest "tweets" next to their user picture.

My Twitter page. Twitter asks all users one question, "What are you doing?"

At 9:50 this morning I opened an account on Twitter. By 2 that afternoon, I had 8 followers, was following 21 others and had learned a great deal of interesting news from acquaintances along the way.

While I was once apprehensive about using Twitter, in part due its silly name, in a little over 4 hours of using it, I’ve found it to be quite a useful web tool.

Opening an account and the inaugural tweet

When opening an account for Twitter, you first need a user name, the equivalent of a screen name on instant messaging services. I chose @D4nRicks, the creative way to spell my name.

One of the complaints I have heard from other people starting a Twitter account, that the process to find people to follow is a little confusing. Unlike applications like Facebook, you don’t add “friends”. With Twitter, you find people to follow, with their updates and conversations between people broadcast for all to see. After starting up an account, Twitter encourages you to find others you may know through email address books. This can be confusing, or not of use for people who don’t have an email account with one of the selected email services.

After overcoming this confusion, I sent out my first “tweet” to the world, what a post is called in Twitterland.

Just joined Twitter and getting the hang of it. Send me any comments on the role of twitter in your life, I’m writing an article on it,” it read.

The challenge with Twitter is keeping your messages under 140 characters, which can be challenging! My first “tweet” was 134, a struggle to keep it just under this requirement.

While it can be a vice, this can also be one of Twitter’s strengths. My first response to this question, from Pendulum editor Olivia Hubert-Allen(@hubertallen), talked about the simplicity of Twitter being one of its strengths.

“Twitter takes the burden out of blogging and let’s you communicate instantly with people with a single click,” she replied.

“Tweets” can be broadcast to all followers, or targeted towards a person using the “@” symbol, following the person’s username.

News from former coworkers

Also responding quickly to my first tweet was Aaron Strout (@astrout), a colleague where I interned this summer, Mzinga. Mzinga being a company that specializes in social media, Aaron and many other employees are frequent users of Twitter. Mzinga even broadcasts live Twitter-feeds during Webinars. It’s easy to see that Aaron has been a big advocate of Twitter, with an astounding 3,080 followers!

While using Twitter, I learned that Aaron had left Mzinga Oct. 31 to take up a job in Austin, Texas as Chief Marketing Officer of Powered. It was all big news that I had discovered through Twitter. While we are friends on Facebook and have each others email addresses, I was able to find this out using Twitter minutes after starting up my account.

Other happenings in the day of Twitter

I learned that Olivia Hubert-Allen had a eye doctor’s appointment and was getting her eyes dilated, which reminded us both of an episode of 90’s Nickelodeon cartoon “Rocko’s Modern Life”.

I discovered, through the Student Government Association at Elon University’s Twitter account (@ElonSGA), that on Oct. 12 they had passed legislation to request more temporary parking spots in Moseley Center parking lot, good news for any Elon student.

I found other classmates completing an assignment on Twitter open their own accounts.

After adding Rick Sanchez (@ricksanchezcnn), a CNN news anchor, I found out that he would be on vacation next week for the holiday. Rick Sanchez regularly broadcasts responses from the audience live through Twitter, a clever use of application.

Once a staunch critic of Twitter, I’ve found it to be useful. The only major downside is that most people my age have never heard or are not familiar with it!  It is also possible that another web application can come to fill the purpose of Twitter. Facebook’s status updates offer a similar concept. Only time will tell, but in my brief time using Twitter, I may have found yet another web tool worthy of my daily attention.

Related Articles

ABC News Story on how Comcast, a cable company, uses Twitter to scan for customer service complaints
Social Media Breakfast asks experts in social media how Twitter has changed their lives

Mashable’s post on the mainstream media and their use of Twitter

Miami Herald story on how Rick Sanchez of CNN uses Twitter and other new media on his television show

New York times story on why Twitter rejected Facebook’s $500 million offer

CNN story on Twitter’s role in reaction to the Mumbai Terror Attacks

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

From an oil refinery in Saudi Arabia to a bike shop in Burlington

Jones-LeGros at her bicycle store, J&L Bicycle Company

Jones-LeGros at her bicycle store, J&L Bicycle Company.

On Nov. 9, Tara Jones-LeGros got on a plane to Saudi Arabia to meet with her husband. These occasional visits and daily video chats they have online before she goes to work has been the only contact she has with her husband.

Two years ago, Tara Jones-LeGros was living with him in Saudi Arabia while he worked as a safety engineer for Saudi Aramco, a Saudi-owned oil company. It was there that she rediscovered her passion for cycling. Today, Jones-LeGros runs their bicycle shop, the J&L Bicycle Company, in downtown Burlington. Her husband still lives and works in Saudi Arabia.

While she didn’t intend for her life to end up like this, the business opportunity didn’t give her the time to wait.

“I landed here in Burlington, didn’t know a soul and started my business,” Jones-LeGros said, “It’s crazy but this is how it worked out.”

For Jones-LeGros, owning a bicycle shop fulfills a passion for cycling she has had since an early age. But living away from her husband while she starts up their business has had its challenges.

Lined up bikes for sale at J&L Bicycle Company

Lined up bikes for sale at J&L Bicycle Company

Enthusiasm for cycling, lost and found:

Jones-LeGros has had a passion for cycling ever since she was a teenager.

“I got my first job when I was 15 to be able to buy my first real road bike. From that point on I was always really into it,” Jones-LeGros said.

Tara’s passion for cycling was interrupted, however, shortly after she bought her first road bicycle.

“Two weeks after I bought that bike—that I worked so hard for— I was riding it home and this guy had just robbed a house and was running away and he saw me, tackled me and took off with my bike,” Jones-LeGros said.

The bicycle was later found at a Wal-Mart by an employee who had read the police report about her stolen bile. Even though she got her bike back, it still took away from the cycling experience.

“Riding a bike is such a sense of freedom. When something like that happens, it takes that away,” Jones-LeGros said. “I was really pretty traumatized by the event and, until I was in college, I never rode by myself.”

College, careers and a hobby shop:

Jones-LeGros, having grown up in Tennessee, started college at University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. She later transferred to Louisiana State University and got a degree in environmental science.

“I worked in consulting first, doing groundwater issues and then I went on to work at Borden Chemical and did more groundwater but started managing hazardous waste from the plant,” Jones-LeGros said.

It was at Borden Chemical that Jones-LeGros met her husband, Marc, working at Borden as a safety manager. They both moved to St. Croix in the Virgin Islands, where they worked at the Hovensa Refinery. While working there, Jones-LeGros managed the hazardous waste at the refinery. They eventually both left their jobs to move back to Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Jones-LeGros and her husband discovered they shared a passion for flying remote-controlled planes.

“It was really cool when we found that out about each other,” Jones-LeGros said.

While living in Baton Rouge, they considered opening a hobby shop and even went as far as to line up suppliers and buy a storage unit for the shop. But when a headhunter contacted Jones-LeGros’ husband about a job position in Saudi Arabia, they put their plans to own a business on hold.

Jones-LeGros participating in a race in Saudi Arabia. Photo Courtesy of Tara Jones-LeGros.

Jones-LeGros participating in a race in Saudi Arabia. Photo Courtesy of Tara Jones-LeGros.

Saudi Arabia and rediscovering a passion for cycling:

In August of 2004, Jones-LeGros and her husband relocated to Ras Tanura, a small beach community on the Persian Gulf.

“When we moved to Saudi Arabia, I wasn’t allowed to work there in my real profession,” Jones-LeGros said. “They didn’t let woman in the refinery and to do my job I needed to be in the refinery.”

Having the free time, Jones-LeGros bought a bicycle in Bahrain and got back into cycling.

“I started training and lost a bunch of weight and just totally fell back in love with riding again,” Jones-LeGros said.

She did her training on the 12-mile loop surrounding the compound where they lived.

“I’ve ridden over a thousand miles on that 12-mile loop,” Jones-LeGros said.

Living in Saudi Arabia as an American, Jones-LeGros found a different reality in Saudi Arabia then the news-media portrays.

“People here, based on Fox news or CNN or whoever, have the impression that Middle Eastern Muslims hate Americans,” Jones-LeGros said. “This is not true. And I can sit around with some Saudi friends and they will tell you they hate the terrorism that has mangled their religion.”

Jones-LeGros after finishing the race. Photo Courtesy of Tara Jones-LeGros

Jones-LeGros after finishing the race. Photo Courtesy of Tara Jones-LeGros

A plan trip to Elon:

Still having the dream to own their own business, Jones-LeGros and her husband started looking at business listings online.

“We went to Saudi with the idea of saving money so that we could start our own business,” Jones-LeGros said. “We didn’t know what kind of business, so kind of as a hobby we would peruse the internet and look at businesses for sale all over the world.”

It was in this search online that Jones-LeGros discovered that the Elon Bike Shop was for sale.

“So we decided, ‘yeah, that looks pretty good.’ North Carolina is just prime bicycling country, so we flew over [to Burlington] from Saudi Arabia for three days to meet with the owner of the Elon Bike Shop,” Jones-LeGros said.

Although the deal fell through, Jones-LeGros decided to stay in the area, eventually finding where they are located today, in downtown Burlington.

“So here was Burlington and Alamance County, with no bike shop. The opportunity kind of slapped me in the face, and even though my husband was not finished working in Saudi, we couldn’t pass up the business opportunity,” Jones-LeGros said.

Before she knew it, she was starting up business and a new life in Burlington, North Carolina.

Shifting gears:

In May of 2007, Jones-LeGros moved to Burlington to start up her bicycle company. Moving to Burlington, where she had no connections or a place to live.

“I rented a car for about two months, rented a room at the corporate suites for a couple of months and then finally bought a place here and t a car,” Jones-LeGros said.

While starting up the business, she quickly fell in love with the downtown Burlington area.

“We wanted that classic downtown feel, so that’s how we designed our store front, with the hopes that Burlington will continue to move towards refurbishing and getting some more business downtown,” Jones-LeGros said.

J&L Bicycles Company opened for business in 2007. According to Jones-LeGros, one of the things she loves most about the location is the walk-in traffic.

“Where we are, we get walk in traffic all the time. Being near the public library is fantastic,” Jones-LeGros said.

Elon senior Whitney Waters has been working at J&L Bicycle Company since the beginning of the school year. While working there, Waters has come to consider Jones-LeGros a friend as well a boss.

“I’ve gone out to dinner with her and stuff and just talked to her,” Waters said. “She’s really easy to talk to, really friendly, really funny.”

“I really respect her for being able to run that business when her husband is far away,” said Waters, “she’s kind of having to go back and forth and live in two places.”

Until her husband is able to retire in the next few years, Jones-LeGros will continue living her live in two places and running a start-up bicycle company by herself until then.

Leave a comment

Filed under Profiles, Uncategorized

Election 2008: North Carolina Voters Endure Bad Weather to Make History

Electioneers stand in the rain to greet voters at Holly Hill Baptist Church. Photo by Miriam Williamson

Electioneers stand in the rain to greet voters at Holly Hill Baptist Church. Photo by Miriam Williamson

All over Alamance County, voters braced themselves against bad weather to cast their ballots in an historic election. At Holly Hill Baptist Church precinct in Burlington, N.C. and Elon Fire Station precinct in Elon, N.C., officials noted a busy morning but a normal flow of voters for the rest of the day.

Neither location reported any problems with voting equipment or the process as a whole.

“This morning, opening up we were absolutely mobbed,” said Chief Election Judge Dee Atkinson about the Elon Fire Station. “We had long lines and we overcrowded the building here. It was raining and it made it very uncomfortable for our voters. However, we worked through it.”

Election official Anne Fortney said the Holly Hill Baptist Church voting location experienced a similar situation.

“It was very busy at 6:30 a.m. The line was all the way down the hall,” she said. “But from 9 a.m. on, it’s been steady.”

High levels of early voting contributed to making the process more manageable. Atkinson said early voting kept the Elon Fire Station precinct numbers low.

“I think people were scared with the big election that it was going to be so crowded here, so they went ahead and did the early voting,” Fortney said.

“We have had so many [people] absentee voting and one stop voting on the county level, that we did not have quite as many voters in this particular building,” Atkinson said.

Elon junior Liz Czerwinski decided to vote on Election Day rather than vote early.

“It’s dorky, but I was really excited,” Czerwinski said. “I was like ‘Yeah, I’m going to vote on Election Day.’”

Atkinson said the turnout was strong among Elon Students.

“We had a lot of Elon students, the most we’ve ever had,” he said. “The students made a good effort to be registered and qualified to vote.”

Both the Holly Hill Baptist Church and Elon Firehouse added more voting machines to accommodate a large expected turnout.

“We usually have about six voting machines and we set up 10 voting machines this time,” Atkinson said. “That has speeded [sic] up our voting process to some extent.”
Accommodations were also made for handicap voters.

The option of curbside voting was made available for handicapped voters to have their ballot brought to their cars to fill out.

Alamance County resident Tony Ferrita, a blind man, voted early at May Memorial Library in Burlington. He used the audio ballot option for the blind- and visually-impaired voters.
“It’s very important for the blind people to have the option of the audio ballot, and this year it worked perfectly,“ Ferrita said. “As a blind person for many, many years, I like the independence of doing things myself if I can. I can have the same confidentiality as everybody else has.”


Filed under Politics, Uncategorized

Iraqi journalist and sculptor, Ahmed Fadaam, discusses Iraq and what it means to be a journalist.

As a working journalist in war-torn Iraq, Ahmed Fadaam knows the power of his profession. On Wednesday, Fadaam shared this insight as well as his experiences in Iraq to a room full of future journalists.

“Since I consider myself anti-war, I don’t like war, I don’t like to have my country at war, then I should do something,” said Fadaam. “And when you want to fight back its not necessary to do it with a weapon. You can do it with words, with bringing in facts, with telling the world about what they are missing.”

Elon Professor, Janna Anderson, introduces Ahmed Fadaam to her reporting class.

Elon Professor, Janna Anderson, introduces Ahmed Fadaam to her reporting class.

Fadaam, who has a Ph. D in Fine Arts, once taught sculpture for the University of Baghdad. Things changed dramatically for Fadaam in 2003 during the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Life since, has been anything but normal.

“Lots of government buildings were burned or destroyed, including the art school, so at the time I had to find me another job,” said Fadaam.

His new job, working as a translator for NPR’s “The Connection” with Dick Gordon, launched Fadaam’s career in journalism. Fadaam found the courage to stay and make his life of value by reporting.

“When the bombings started my wife insisted we should leave Baghdad to find a safer haven for ourselves and the children and I refused and told her that when my children would grow up they would need to know what happened and I didn’t want them to hear about it from someone else, I wanted them to hear about it from me and to be a first hand witnesses,” said Fadaam. “So I decided to stay in the city and know as much as I could about what was going on, until suddenly I found myself working as a journalist.”

Fadaam went on to work for the Agence France Presse and the Baghdad Bureau of the New York Times. As the situation in Iraq deteriorated, Fadaam was forced to confront the reality in Baghdad from two perspectives, as a working journalist in Iraq and as a citizen of Baghdad.

In 2006, Fadaam made the difficult decision to temporarily move his family to Syria.

“You couldn’t even feel safe in your house because of the exchanged shelling between neighborhoods. It’s like you are sitting in your living room and suddenly you start hearing sounds of explosions and bits of mortar shower against your neighborhood. That’s why I moved my family out, at least to send my children to school,” said Fadaam.

When the security situation improved in Iraq, Fadaam moved his family back. But as Fadaam found himself facing a different threat, he was forced to move his family back to Syria where they reside today. Some Iraqis saw Fadaam as a traitor for working for western media.

“After receiving a death threat which included kidnapping one of my children or killing my wife I had decided to send them back again. And they are in Syria right now waiting for me,” said Fadaam, “so it’s not an easy job being a journalist in Iraq.”

Last April, Fadaam left Iraq for the United States to work for Dick Gordon’s “The Story”. Fadaam publishes a series called Ahmed’s Diary, which has won 5 major awards. For Fadaam, it is work that opens the dialogue between Iraqis and Americans.

“There is no American in Iraq explaining to the Iraqis that there are Americans who oppose the war and want to live a normal life away from violence. But there is an Iraqi here in the United States who is trying to do this,” said Fadaam.

It is the latest chapter in his career of providing valuable insight for a volatile situation.

Ahmed works on his other profession, creating a sculpture for Elon University. Photo courtesy of Tom Arcaro.

Ahmed works at his other profession, creating a sculpture for Elon University. Photo courtesy of Tom Arcaro.

Leave a comment

Filed under Journalism, Politics

Gov. Palin speaks at Elon University: North Carolinians and others travel far to show support.

Photo courtesy of University Relations at Elon University

by Dan Rickershauser

Additional reporting by Bethany Swanson

Vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin made a visit to Elon University this Thursday and was met by enthusiastic supporters from all over North Carolina and the country.

“We live in Danville, Virginia and this is the nearest we could come and support our candidates John McCain and Sarah Palin,” said Barbara Hyler. “We have about a two and a half hour drive back to Danville and it’s well worth it.”

Prior to Gov. Palin’s appearance, most supporters said that they wanted to hear about the economy, an issue that has been at the forefront of many voters minds admit a volatile Wall Street and the global credit meltdown.

“She should talk about the economy, that’s what people are concerned about,” said Robert Priebe, a resident of Winston-Salem.

Tammie McGonagle, a McCain supporter, agreed that the economy was what people wanted to hear about.

“I think the economy affects all of us, so that’s something that everybody here is interested in,” she said.

Palin wasn’t the only politician making a visit, Rick Gunn, a candidate running for the North Carolina State Senate, also made an appearance.

“This is just such a good thing for our community and I feel so good about the ticket with McCain and Gov. Palin,” said Gunn.

Gunn agreed with the other McCain supporters that Palin would be talking about the economy.

“I think you are going to hear a lot about the economy, she knows where we’re from, she knows how we have been hit with economic hard times, both financial but also with our textile communities,” Gunn added.

With music from the Wells Family Band, Hank Williams as well as a brief speech from North Carolina Sen. Elizabeth Dole, Gov. Sarah Palin took the stage to a crowd of “Sarah! Sarah!” chants.

Leave a comment

Filed under community, Politics