For a broadcast journalist, winning a Peabody Award is a crowning achievement. But for UVA junior Sahar Adish, it was just another day in the college grind. What did she do to celebrate when she heard the news? “I took a three–and-a-half hour exam,” she says.
This group of teen filmmakers now has a Peabody Award for their Light House documentary Sahar Before the Sun.
The University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism typically gives out the annual news media awards to heavyweights like “60 Minutes” and PBS. But this year the school gave one of its 35 awards to Adish and fellow teen filmmakers Joseph Babarsky, Luke Tilghman and Sonja Jovanovic for Sahar Before the Sun, a short documentary they made while in high school. The film was produced by Light House, Charlottesville’s teen media education program founded by Shannon Worrell. The Light House filmmakers share the award with eight other youth-made films from around the globe, all of which collectively made up a project called Beyond Borders: Personal Stories from a Small Planet that aired on CNN International last year.
The theme of the project was fear and security, and Light House’s film focused on the life of Adish herself, an Afghani refugee whose family was forced to flee the Taliban-controlled country in the late 1990s for fear of their lives. Adish’s parents were in trouble with the Islamic fundamentalist regime for violating Taliban law. Their crime? Secretly home-schooling their daughter and several neighborhood kids. Schooling was forbidden.
Sahar Before the Sun chronicles Adish’s treacherous journey from Kabul to Charlottesville, where her greatest fear as a 16-year-old was not getting into college and letting down the parents who sacrificed so much for her education.
With one year left as a premed student at UVA, Adish seems to have fulfilled her parents’ dream, but she says, “It’s just the beginning.” She still has to conquer medical school, so there’s no time to rest—even on a Peabody Award.
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