Nazneen Zahan Becomes a Journalist

 

It might feel intimidating to be sent to the street to hunt for stories and report on them, but it is this push that molds us into independent journalists. For me, this was the experience of getting out of the classroom that made me feel I can do journalism.

 

It was certainly hard to convince my dad that I was supposed to have my Enterprise Reporting class in the Turkey Central restaurant on Merqab Street. He just couldn’t understand what kind of a course would have its class of 12 girls walking the streets and talking to random people on the street.

 

The class was held in the Al Nasr area of Doha. We would meet on the top floor of the restaurant, in the family section, three times a week, discuss our stories with our professors and then be sent off to report.

 

For most of us, it was awkward, but exciting. As the initial awkwardness faded away, it was a learning experience for both the people on Merqab and us.

 

Some people on Merqab Street would stop and ask us who we were, and some would just stop and stare as we walked from shop to shop with a camera and tripod on our shoulders, questioning and making conversation with shop owners and customers. However, it came as no surprise for us, because in an Islamic country like Qatar, it is not common to see women talking to strangers, even though it might be common elsewhere.

 

Despite being a country where more than 80 percent of the population is expats, freedom of speech is still feared by most people.

 

Many people wouldn’t talk to us, and asked, “What if we say something my sponsors wouldn’t like, what if I lose my job?â€

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