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At reunion in Cambridge, Dorothy Parvaz was missing

Posted by Alan Wirzbicki  May 17, 2011 10:12 AM

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Mideast Syria Missing Journalist.jpgThis past weekend was one I had been looking forward to for months: a reunion in Cambridge of Nieman friends from around the world made while we were all on fellowship here in 2008 and 2009. One of those friends is Dorothy Parvaz — whom we called D —┬ácitizen of Iran, the US, and Canada. There was hardly a day in our fellowship year when we did not meet each other for lunch or dinner, or for class or lectures, or just to talk, because within a week of arriving here, D became a friend I knew I would have for life.

On April, 28, I received an email from her. We were both due to fly in on May 13 — she from Doha and I from Dublin. She wrote that she would fight off jet lag to make sure no time was wasted back in Cambridge, and arranged with me where and when we would meet. On April 29, she went missing once her plane landed in Damascus, and has not been heard from since.

Dorothy did not show up last Wednesday to take her room at the Faculty Club on Quincy Street. That was the day we learned from Syria that she was being held in Iran, at an unknown destination. I had the bleak self-appointed task of going to the Faculty Club to cancel her room. It is such an unimportant thing in the context of her disappearance, but I knew D had agonized over whether she should spend so much money staying there, and I fretted that her credit card would be hit for a room she would not be turning up to occupy.

We were going to go on a tour of all our old haunts. We had a list of rituals we were going to perform with our other close classmates. Lunch at Le's, the Vietnamese restaurant where we ate at together several times a week. The touchstones of walking through Harvard Yard, visiting the Lippmann House where the Nieman Foundation is based, the bookshops we frequented, the libraries, and all the places we loved during our fellowship year — including the consignment clothing chain, Second Time Around, where we had found so many gems in the past.

She was not there with us. We still do not know where she is. She was not standing among us at the Lippmann House to celebrate the farewell of Bob Giles as Nieman Curator after 11 years. Instead, Dorothy was the subject of his closing words to us: how journalism was such an important but also sometimes a dangerous job, and how we were all distraught at her unexplained absence. Some of us cried as he spoke. I was one of them.

Rosita Boland is a feature writer for The Irish Times.

Photo courtesy Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

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ABOUT THE ANGLE Online commentary and news analysis from the Boston Globe. The Angle is produced by Rob Anderson and Alan Wirzbicki. You can follow Rob on Twitter at @rcand.

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