Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A Woman Who Will: Inspired by Madeleine Albright and Company

I had grand plans of posting yesterday but after the gorgeous weather I decided to focus on getting outdoors. I was glad I did:

My parents live in Dallas and my sisters are in New York so I couldn't help but rub in the good weather we had yesterday by texting them this:

Over the weekend I was at back on campus at my alma mater Wellesley for the Madeleine Albright Institute's Public Dialogue: "Addressing Global Inequality." Quite a topic to tackle in only 90 minutes, but my floor-mate Heather Long '04, CNN Money Senior Economy Writer and Editor, did an outstanding job moderating the panel which included Ms. Albright '59, former U.S. Secretary of State, Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the IMF, Sri Mulyani Indrawati, managing director and COO of the World Bank, and Mark Malloch-Brown, former deputy chief secretary general and chief of staff for the U.N. When I first heard about the panel I marked it down in my calendar and while Mr. Lovebird was intrigued by the panel - he did a double take when I told him the panelists (hello, Wellesley?!), he decided to sit out with the kids so I could attend. 

I arrived on campus around noon and met up with a group of alums for lunch, and when we were done we saw the hundreds in line already. It was crazy, but I knew it was going to be a large turnout. We got right up to the door and were turned away, but I pursued and an older alum and her husband whisked me in with them when about 20 seats opened up, and I literally had the last seat in the last row! 

What a view!
You can catch the recording of the event here, but I was especially struck by the remarkable questions asked by the audience during the Q & A. My ears perked up when an African student expressly asked about the bad blood between the IMF, World Bank and African nations. That had always been the sentiment I picked up going back to when I was an Economics minor at Wellesley and now being a Nigerian-American family it's especially a sensitive topic. The panelists were a bit defensive explaining that there's always two sides to every argument and that many times when no one else will assist these countries the World Bank is often to the rescue as a last resort. I'm not sure how that sat with me especially given questionable terms that have been of issue in the past. 

Alllll the zoom

Even being able to consider this and hear the public banter filled me with a desire to get back to being on top of world issues. I try to follow as much as I can but most days my mind is in the world of toddler-hood and Kindergartner issues! My mom reminds me everything goes in cycles and soon I'll be back in full swing when it comes to focusing on intellectual pursuits. 

I was renewed to be back on campus - to be in the presence of greatness as cliched as it sounds. I selected Wellesley after visiting about 5 other schools because I was astounded by the roster of alums and knowing that I truly wanted to make a difference in the world.

For now that difference is mostly with my kids, and I'm OK with that. 

Right before I left campus I was thrilled to see my longtime friend Nora and hug her neck! When we first met  she was an incoming international student from Switzerland who had never seen the campus and as an alum I picked her up from the airport and was able to show her the campus and attend a welcome lunch together. Over the years we've kept in touch via Facebook, but it had been way too long since we'd seen each other. 

While I was getting into my car to drive back to New Hampshire I was feeling a bit down that I didn't get to see Heather and commend her on her moderation of the panel. Lo and behold she was standing next to my car about to get in her own car - what are the odds? We were able to quickly catch up and take a selfie, of course:

I'm feeling refreshed now at the start of February and reminded of where I came from, just not genetically, but intellectually. At the age of 35 I've expressed before that I foresee the next 15 years as my years of greatness especially now that my childbearing time is over (Lord willing!). Being back at Wellesley has me feeling renewed for the new year, and I'm thankful to my parents especially for sacrificing for me to attend.