CAMP US PROFILE
COURTESY OF IAN LYE
Ian Lye: The Possibilities of an Internship
At first, Ian Lye didn’t think much
about the exploding firecrackers.
Italy had won the World Cup,
and Lebanese soccer fans were as eager as
their counterparts in Rome to celebrate the
victory. But that win was three days gone.
“We thought they were still celebrating
the World Cup, like people were finishing
their fireworks, but it was for a totally different reason,” said Lye, a UNC senior.
“People were celebrating the capture.”
Lye spent most of last summer in Beirut
writing for a local newspaper. He had met
the editor-at-large when the editor spoke to
a class at UNC earlier that year. Lye
expressed his interest in the Middle East and
foreign correspondence, and the editor
arranged an internship for him. The trip,
funded mostly by grants from UNC’s Office
of Undergraduate Research and the School
of Journalism and Mass Communication,
allowed Lye to spend part of the summer
studying press freedom in Lebanon.
His experience was transformed when
conflict broke out after Hezbollah captured
two Israeli soldiers in July. He was evacuated
from the country 11 days later, but the time
he spent in the Middle East during the ensuing battle had an impact on his perspective.
Lye had been visiting a friend that
morning when he heard the firecrackers and
received word of the hostages. He didn’t
understand the gravity of the situation until
he returned to the newsroom an hour later.
“Everybody was glued to the TV screens,”
Lye said.“At that point, I didn’t think much
of it, just two soldiers, whatever. But later I
realized it could be serious because there was
talk on the news that Israeli tanks were rumbling across the border, and I was thinking,
‘Well, this might be a war.’”
The next 48 hours changed everything,
Lye said. Israel bombed the airport and the
main highways and was blockading the port.
His reporting assignments changed, too.
Lye had spent the first weeks of his
internship writing stories about local events
and sports. He said he was thrown into the
growing conflict from the beginning and
given little guidance on stories.
Ian Lye is pictured in
southern suburbs of
Beirut during the
Hezbollah media tour
after an uneventful
internship faded into
the life of a writer
and photographer in
a war zone. Lye
stayed on after some
reporters left the