Meet the Fellow: Boer Deng

For Boer Deng, 29, journalism is about “creating a little bit of someone’s reality.”

“I think that’s what you’re doing when you’re a journalist,” Boer told me. “You open them up to something that they didn’t know before about the world.”

It was this idea of writing as creation that drew the former chemist to journalism.

“When you’re creating a new chemical you’re kind of creating a new reality, a new piece of reality,” Boer said.

As the Washington correspondent for the Times of London, her daily challenge is to explain the chaotic reality of the Trump administration to a foreign audience. The Adelante fellowship has given Boer a break from Washington. She spent the first day of her reporting trip in Mexico surrounded by rows of blue agave, whacking the fibrous plants with a hoe-like tool called a “coa,” to understand how they are harvested and processed to make tequila. While in Mexico, Boer also plans to speak with migrants about the impact of the Trump administration’s policy of separating families.

Throughout her career as a journalist, the stories that have meant the most to Boer are those that provide an opportunity to affect change. In January, for example, she exposed a pattern of verbal abuse and a hostile work environment at the English National Ballet.

Boer is a dancer herself, and she de-stresses from her work on Capitol Hill by attending practice sessions with the Washington Ballet. She helped some of us decompress during the four-day Hostile Environmental and First Aid Training by leading us through a ballet stretch routine.

Boer was encouraged to hear that since her investigation, conditions at the English National Ballet have improved.

“From what I’ve heard things have gotten a bit better,” Boer told me. “That’s always quite gratifying, and that’s sort of changing someone’s reality as opposed to just showing them a new piece of reality.”

– Amy Littlefield, Fall 2018 Mexico Reporting Fellow