Nicholas Kristof makes all of your dreams come true in the ICC

Pulitzer-Prize winning New York Times op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof joined a half-full ICC auditorium for a conversation and book signing this Sunday. The crowd, modest though it may have been, seemed enraptured by every word that came out of Kristof’s mouth.

This is Georgetown, after all. It’s not surprising that the man who was described by Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government as “the reporter who’s done more than any other to change the world” could gather an audience of foreign-policy obsessed youngsters.

But the breadth of some students’ devotion to Kristof astounded Vox. During a question-and-answer period, one young woman credited Kristof’s columns as providing the framework for her future plans in life. Two others said they wrote their college essays about their relationship with his writing. Two more described personal “Kristof moments,” in which they came to transformative conclusions about the world as a result of his work.

Kristof, after diplomatically dealing with some technical difficulties, delivered a talk that called on students to realize the institutional nature of global inequity and to shift their worldviews to confront it.

“It’s the class gap,” Kristof said. “So many successful people look at someone unsuccessful and they blame them for being unsuccessful. They don’t appreciate the fact that they were basically born on third base. So, policy interventions are the best way to change that.”

His talk was an upbeat musing on some very depressing topics, like racial inequality, sex trafficking, and war in sub-Saharan Africa. Kristof acknowledged this, calling himself “essentially an optimist” on the capacity for individuals to affect the world for the better.

“I’m just a spotlight,” he said in his closing remarks. “I highlight things and try to get people to take action on them.”

Photo: Patrick Giblin via Flickr

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