May 29 2006

UNICEF Chief’s Theme for Middlebury Grads is Globalization

Published by at May 29, 2006 3:03 am under Globalization

“Globalization is not a prediction, it’s a reality,” Veneman began.

She cited the view of Thomas Friedman (“The World is Flat”) that international competition began with nations in the era of Columbus and other explorers, became competition between companies around the year 1800 when Middlebury College was founded, and now was between individuals.

To take part in the global economy, “all it takes is a computer and a connection to the outside world,” she said.

Reflecting on the way messages travel across the Atlantic Ocean 282 times faster than in 1492, she said that if the world physically shrank by it would be “just slightly larger than a golf ball.”

But also, Veneman said, if you can’t see the link with a starving child in Africa, “you simply are not looking hard enough.”

It matters to us, or should, that a billion people live on less than a dollar a day, she said.

You don’t have to look in the face of a dying mother or child to care, she said, “but if you do, I promise you it will alter how you look at humanity.”

Veneman spoke of the 12-year-old girl she met from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where rape had been a weapon of warfare. That girl, asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, said, “I want to be a nun.”

“One person who works to save a child is worth a thousand of those who are on the sidelines complaining about the state of the world,” Veneman said. “One person can help change the world.”

“I see in your generation tremendous compassion and integrity,” Veneman said, “a generation that is growing up in the belief that financial status does not determine its true worth. A generation to whom hard work, honesty and strong personal values are as important as ever.”

“Seek to continuously improve and learn,” she counseled, and “give something of yourself and help your fellow human beings.”

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