My dear friend Tamar e-mailed me an op-ed piece by Ny Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof. Kristof recently ran a "win a trip" contest offering to take a university student with him on a reporting sortie to Africa.
He garnered 3800 applicant replies that sometimes included supplementary material like senior theses & nude photos. The winner he chose, Casey Parks of Jackson, Miss., is an aspiring journalist who has never traveled abroad. In her winning essay she wrote about growing up poor:
"I saw my mother skip meals. I saw my father pawn everything he loved. I saw our cars repossessed. I never saw France or London." Read her essay in its entirety here. When Casey heads off to Africa with Kristof come September, she'll blog it for the nytimes.com and she'll video blog it for MTV-U.
In his column yesterday, Kristof urged young students everywhere to fund their own travels to the world's remote corners for the betterment of us all.
...the point of this contest wasn't to give one lucky student the chance to get malaria and hookworms. It's to try to stir up a broader interest in the developing world among young people. One of our country's basic strategic weaknesses is that Americans don't understand the rest of the world. We got in trouble in Vietnam and again in Iraq partly because we couldn't put ourselves in other people's shoes and appreciate their nationalism.
...In the 21st century, you can't call yourself educated if you don't understand how the other half lives — and you don't get that understanding in a classroom. So do something about your educational shortcomings: fly to Bangkok.
The full column is here but you have to subscribe to read it. I'll post it if there's interest...
Good for him; Her insight is refreshing as hell