Ashley Westerman

Ashley Westerman is an assistant producer with Morning Edition and occasionally directs the show. Since joining the staff in June 2015, she has helped produce coverage of all sorts of notable happenings — including the European migrant crisis and the 2016 presidential campaign. Ashley convinced the show to cover a coal mine closing near her hometown. Ages ago (2011) Ashley was a summer intern with Morning Edition and pitched a story on her very first day. She went on to work as reporter and host for member station 89.3 WRKF in Baton Rouge, La., where she earned awards covering everything from health care to jambalaya. Ashley is a two-time reporting fellow with the International Center for Journalists. Through its programs, she has covered labor issues in her home country of the Philippines for NPR and health care in Appalachia for Voice of America. She tweets @NPRAshley.

A recent string of violent episodes in Southeast Asian countries sheds some light on the challenges facing this region as it grapples with extremism.

In Indonesia last month, two suicide bombers blew themselves up at a Jakarta bus station. The attack was linked to an ISIS-affiliated group.

On April 24, 2013, the eight-story Rana Plaza building outside Dhaka, Bangladesh, collapsed, killing more than 1,100 people and injuring thousands of others. At the time, the building housed five garment factories that manufactured goods for major retail companies in Europe and North America.

Can all hope be lost?

I used to think not.

I used to think that no matter how tough life gets for people, they always have hope to cling to – to get them through it.

Then I met some Rohingya refugees on a trip to Bangladesh last month. Reporter Michael Sullivan and I were there to report on the latest wave of the Muslim minority group to flee over the border from Buddhist-majority Myanmar.