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April 12, 2002

Calvin Grad to Speak on Middle East
 

Next week a 1998 Calvin College graduate who recently escaped from the siege in Ramallah will make a public presentation on the situation there. Lenore VanderZee will speak at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 17 in the Commons Lecture Hall on "Living Under the Gun: A Voice from Occupied Ramallah."

Following her 1998 graduation from Calvin, VanderZee worked for two years in Grand Rapids for a local church. But as a Calvin senior she had spent a semester in Egypt on a Middle Eastern Studies program run by the Coaltion for Christian Colleges and Universities (a group that Calvin is a member of). She had become intrigued by the region as a result of that semester-long program and in 2000 she moved to the middle east to do development and human rights work.

For the last year she has been a reporter for Dubai TV, a satellite station which from its base in the United Arab Emirates serves much of the Arab world. She is based in Ramallah and assigned to cover the Israel/Palestine question.

VanderZee was an interdisciplinary major at Calvin with majors in philosophy, religion and psychology. She says the recent scenarios in Ramallah have caused her to draw on all three. "And some political science," she adds with a weary sigh.

Prior to escaping Ramallah for first Jerusalem and then the U.S., VanderZee was trapped in her apartment by herself for four days while outside the tanks and troops circled. Her water and phone lines had been cut and the battery on her mobile was slowly fading. She wasn't sure what might be next. When she spotted a Red Cross car outside her apartment she persuaded the driver to take her and was able to make her way to safety. She spent about a week in Jerusalem and then came to the U.S., hoping to tell others about what she had experienced.

She will visit with Calvin classes while in Grand Rapids, including a talk on Monday, April 15 from 1:30-2:30 to a History class studying the middle east. And she will deliver the public lecture on April 17 (which is sponsored by Calvin's student-led Social Justice Committee and the Calvin History Department).

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Contact Phil de Haan
616-957-6475 (v)
616-957-7069 (f)
dehp@calvin.edu