Student Life Editor
Monday, October 5, was a historic day for journalism aficionados at Messiah College.
Two words: Nicholas Kristof.
If you haven’t heard of him before, allow me to give you a little run-down. Kristof is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner (think the Golden Globe of the journalism profession). He has worked as a New York Times columnist since 2001, and has been a foreign correspondent for decades, traveling to over 150 countries. During this time, he has reported on a vast array of global issues, from human trafficking and gun control to the importance of education and gender equality. He is known, among many other things, for his penchant of stirring empathy by focusing on specific people’s stories, essentially putting a face to each issue.
This world-renowned journalist was also the keynote speaker for the American Democracy lecture series here at Messiah. On Monday, the High Center’s Parmer Hall was filled with over 600 guests, who listened as Kristof spoke on the topic of oppression and human trafficking. He shared his thoughts on a wide variety of issues within the broad spectrum, from teenage pregnancy prevention to the impact of education worldwide.
“The biggest deterrent to terrorism is not drones flying overhead – it is a girl with a book,” he said. “Educated women are a powerful force.”
Kristof ended the lecture in his characteristic style, by sharing a powerful story of his own father’s immigration to the United States, which was made possible only by the compassion of strangers from Oregon. “I’m a big believer in the proverbial drop in the bucket,” said Kristof, whose message brought home a vital truth: even if your actions can’t save the masses, there is power in just changing one life.
“Kristof is not a polarizing figure,” says senior Jonathan Barry Wolf, a Humanities Fellow and SAB Culture Engagement Executive. “By this I mean that Kristof offers practical solutions to the world’s problems that almost everyone can agree on. His only agenda is to help heal the world’s wounds, and he does so without feeding his audience any particularly polarizing political ideology.”
“Personally, the best part of the night was being able to meet him in person, and give him a copy of the Swinging Bridge Magazine,” says junior Myriam Pedercini, who is also the SBM’s Culture Editor. “We offered it to him and said that we were student journalists, and he said that the world needs more good journalists. It’s always great to have someone you admire so much in your own field say something like that to you.”
Following the lecture, Kristof signed copies of his most recent book, A Path Appears, before leaving to catch a flight to India where he will be reporting on health issues. One thing is for sure: Kristof certainly practices what he preaches.