University brings speaker to Queens Campus students: Nicholas Kristof

On political activism:
“I’m a real believer in actually doing something. I think if you have the ability to go out into a village and actually do something, I think that is the way to go. I think that one of the mistakes that the U.S. tends to make, and I think it’s probably disproportionatly a mistake on the left, is sort of a conference in changing laws or in the UN both in conferences on such and such a problem. The reality is is that the law doesn’t make a bit of difference outside the capital. And the real problems tend to be in the villages…There often tends to be a problem with well-meaning Americans jumping out there and saying ‘this is the way things should be’ in a way that is deeply resented by people on the ground that often have a much richer understanding of the problems and issues. So I think that if there is a way individually or as a University to have a program that is actually on the ground somewhere, ideally not in a capital, not in a city but in a village, then that really does make a real difference.”

On American apathy:
“I think [Americans] traditionally have been apathetic but 9/11 sure helped change that. I think 9/11 woke us up to the degree to which our laws and our security depend on events say in Afghanistan and all around the world. I hope that students realize increasingly that their long-term career prospects are going to depend, in part, on how well they understand what’s going on in China and India and a lot of other places in the world.”

On youth apathy:
“Older people have always been complaining about young people and how they should be more involved except for those times when they’re burning campuses. I don’t think that it’s a new problem and I think that in the case of Darfur, for example, I really see a lot of activism. In the case of Darfur, most of America and the world has been tragically apathetic and university students have been one of the few groups that has been jumping up and down demanding that more be done.”