Journalist Maria Ressa, recipient of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, visited The Potomac School on March 31, one day after testifying to the U.S. Senate about the state of freedom of expression in Asia.
Ressa spoke to students, faculty, and staff at an Upper School assembly and met with a Global Perspectives and Citizenship class.
She covered a wide range of issues, touching on freedom of the press, social media manipulation, moral integrity, surveillance capitalism, and emergent human behavior. Her remarks included candid stories about her experience moving from the Philippines to the US as a child, an interview that she conducted with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, and the 10 arrest warrants outstanding against her in her native country.
Discussing ethics and journalism, Ressa spoke about the importance of “holding your moral line.” She told the students, “As you all move on to take leadership positions, situational ethics will make it seem harder. Know where your integrity lies, and where your North Star is.”
Maria Ressa was one of two journalists awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2021, in recognition of her “efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.” In addition to her work as a journalist and author, Ressa is the CEO of Rappler, a digital-only news site that is leading the fight for press freedom in the Philippines, where she now resides. In 2018, she was named to Time Magazine's “Person of the Year” list. The themes of her work – integrity in journalism, courage in the face of disinformation and authoritarian rule, the fight for democracy, freedom of expression, and the push for human rights – provide compelling fuel for thought and action.
Head of School John Kowalik notes, “Ms. Ressa’s presentation was an incredibly exciting and enriching learning experience for Potomac’s Upper School community. We are grateful to her for sharing her time and insights with us.”