Staff Writer’s Memo: Attitude of Hiroshima teens offers encouragement

by Rie Nii, Staff Writer

“I’m afraid we have to cancel your interview with her.” I became upset by the words of the spokesperson. Two junior writers for “Peace Seeds,” a newspaper on peace issues produced by Hiroshima teens and published regularly in the Chugoku Shimbun, sat frozen by my side. We had anticipated interviewing Shirin Ebadi, the human rights activist from Iran who was one of the participants of the 2010 World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates held in the city of Hiroshima from November 12 to 14. We were being told by the spokesperson for the summit’s secretariat in Rome that the interview we had arranged with her was now impossible.

Since the interview had to be conducted between sessions of the summit, the time allotted for the interview would have to be short. We were worried that it might end up being a hurried affair on our feet as she moved from one place to another. With this concern in mind, we made our request for the interview with Ms. Ebadi nearly one month before the meeting convened, and we received a positive response, indicating that we would have the chance to interview her during the three-day summit.

Before noon on the first day, we were told by the spokesperson that the only time she would be available for an interview throughout the duration of the summit would be after 4:30 p.m. on that day. It was Friday. I contacted the junior writers at school and asked them to come to the venue right away after school. The junior writers and I then hurriedly finalized the questions that we planned to ask her. But suddenly, at the time of the appointment, we were told that the interview would have to be canceled.

Although I felt sorry for the spokesperson, who was harried with Ms. Ebadi’s schedule, I could not give up on the interview. I patiently negotiated with the spokesperson for another interview time with Ms. Ebadi and we were able to gain another appointment to hold the interview at 11 a.m. the next day. By then, night had already fallen on Friday.

On Saturday, we were finally able to conduct our interview with Ms. Ebadi, though it took place an hour later than the scheduled time. Despite the delay, the junior writers remained focused on their task and asked her their questions in a forthright manner. Ms. Ebadi responded with kind and thoughtful answers. The “Peace Seeds” interview with Ms. Ebadi will appear in the Chugoku Shimbun on November 29.

(Originally published on November 28, 2010)