Roxana Saberi – October 7, 2012

Roxana SaberiPrairie Talks welcomed Roxana Saberi, journalist, speaker, human rights advocate, and author of the book Between Two Worlds: My Life and Captivity in IranSaberi spoke at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 7, 2012.

Roxana Saberi moved to Iran in 2003 to work as the Iran correspondent for the U.S.-based Feature Story News.  She filed reports for organizations such as NPR, BBC, ABC Radio and Fox News and was working on a book about Iranian society when she was arrested on January 31, 2009. Saberi was later sentenced to eight years in prison on a trumped-up charge of espionage. In May 2009, an Iranian court suspended the sentence, and she was released.

Since her release, Saberi has joined others in bringing attention to the situation of human rights in Iran. Saberi has spoken at several human rights events; written articles published in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Chicago Tribune; and been interviewed on news programs of organizations such as Fox News, ABC, NBC, CBS, BBC, CNN, PRI, NPR, and C-SPAN, as well as shows such as The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Saberi has received the Medill Medal of Courage, the Ilaria Alpi Freedom of the Press Award, the NCAA Award of Valor, a POMED (Project for Middle East Democracy) Award, and an East-West Freedom Award from the Levantine Cultural Center.  She was named one of Jaycees’ 2011 Ten Outstanding Young Americans and was honored by the Japanese American Citizens League as an “Outstanding Woman.” In September 2011, she was chosen as a “commended” artist for the Freedom to Create Main Prize.

Saberi’s book, Between Two World: My Life and Captivity in Iran, was published by HarperCollins in March 2010.  Saberi was also a co-writer of No One Knows About Persian Cats, a film-documentary about underground music in Iran.

Saberi grew up in Fargo, North Dakota, the daughter of Reza Saberi, who was born in Iran, and Akiko Saberi, who is from Japan. She was chosen Miss North Dakota in 1997 and was among the top ten finalists in Miss America 1998. She graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, with degrees in communications and French.

Saberi holds her first master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and her second master’s degree in international relations from the University of Cambridge. More information is available at

This program was sponsored in part by the North Dakota Humanities Council.

North Dakota Humanities Council


Alan Bjerga – June 3, 2012

Alan BjergaAuthor and journalist Alan Bjerga spoke on Sunday, June 3, 2012 at the Eagles Club. Bjerga is an American journalist, author of the book Endless Appetites: How the Commodities Casino Creates Hunger and Unrest, and the 2010 president of the National Press Club. He covers agricultural policy for Bloomberg News and in 2010-2011 was also the president of the North American Agricultural Journalists. In 2009 he was recognized for his work covering U.S. food aid and the famine in Ethiopia. He received awards from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, the New York Press Club, the Kansas Press Association, the North American Agricultural Journalists, and the Overseas Press Club for this work. Before working for Bloomberg News, Bjerga won the NAAJ’s top writing award in 2005 while working for the Knight-Ridder Washington Bureau.

Bjerga, who grew up on a farm near the town of Motley, Minnesota, went to Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota where he earned a bachelor’s degree in history and English literature and edited the student newspaper, The Concordian. He earned a masters degree in mass communication from the University of Minnesota, where he was the managing editor of The Minnesota Daily. Bjerga began his career with the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Minnesota) and also reported for the Sioux Falls (South Dakota) Argus Leader and The Wichita Eagle (Kansas).


Select photographs from Tanzania and Ethiopia taken by Rugby native Jared Mack (RHS ’98) were also on display. Photographs have been donated to Rugby High School.