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UKIC / International Center / Nicholas Kristof Tells UK Students How to Change the World

Nicholas Kristof Tells UK Students How to Change the World

Friday, November 3, 2017 | By Sydney Sparks

"Anything we do is just a drop in the bucket, but all of those drops eventually fill the bucket," said award winning New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof to University of Kentucky students last Thursday during his talk at the Kincaid Auditorium in the Gatton College of Business.

Kristof's talk, A Path Appears: How Students Can Change the World, addressed major global problems such as lack of education for girls, sex trafficking, teen pregnancy, drug addiction and poverty as well as problems in the U.S. such as the opioid crisis. Ultimately, Kristof's message to students was to use their own voice to create change and to help address the challenges people face. 

"Use your own spotlight to shine a light on these issues because if we don't shine a light on them then they will never get addressed," Kristof said.

Kristof shined a light on the challenges that women face all over the world and shared personal stories of how small "drops" or actions were able to greatly impact women's lives and bring change to their communities.

Kristof shared how his article about girls in a small Chinese village struggling to pay for education prompted a donation of $10,000 which allowed all the girls in the village to attend school. Kristof said the entire village benefited from all the girls getting an education and changed the way the village viewed the importance of girls' education.

Another example Kristof gave in his talk pertained to his first encounter with human trafficking in Cambodia. He told how he paid $200 each for two girls from a brothel in Cambodia and returned them to their families. Kristof made the point that small actions like these that help women will eventually lead to greater change.

"Some of the best ways to bring about change in the world is to invest in women," said Kristof.

After touching on global problems women face, Kristof narrowed his focus closer to home and spoke about the challenges women face in the U.S. Kristof spoke about the issues of teen pregnancy, how 30 percent of U.S. girls become pregnant by the age of 19 and that they become pregnant three times as often as girls in Europe do.

Kristof also talked about how young teen girls in the U.S. are victims of sex trafficking and have a higher rate of getting arrested then the men or "pimps" in charge do. Due to this, Kristof explained that victims of sex trafficking have a higher chance to get addicted to drugs which leads to another criminal offense if they are arrested.

Even though problems like sex trafficking and drug addiction are very prevalent in the U.S., Kristof expressed that there is an empathy gap in the U.S. in which people lack empathy to want to help fix these issues.

"The issue leads to narratives in which poverty is a moral failure, not just an economic issue," Kristof said about the empathy gap issue.

Kristof said everyone has the human tendency to "otherize" and categorize individuals who are different than us. For example, Kristof said that some people have less empathy for individuals with an addiction if they are of color than those who are Caucasian.

Even though the empathy gap exists, Kristof told students that we can bridge the gap by holding ourselves and others accountable for our actions and our lack of a desire to help others who are different than ourselves.

"Accountability is hugely important in changing behavior," said Kristof to students when asked how they could evoke change. "If we hold ourselves accountable for treating others fairly then we can start to change our behavior and help make the world a better place."

After his talk, students had the opportunity to ask Kristof any remaining questions they had about the issues he addressed during a Q&A session.

Kristof's talk was sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences, the Gatton College of Business and Economics, the School of Journalism and Media, and the Office of the Provost. Kristof has written an op-ed column for the New York Times since November 2001 and has won two Pulitzer Prizes for his work in journalism.

2017 - 4:00pmFriday, November 3, 2017 Share