• Miller Kern

EIL speaker Sheryl WuDunn addresses students on poverty, volunteering

This article originally appeared in the Ball State Daily News

After traveling the world and observing poverty, author and journalist Sheryl WuDunn said Monday it is important to help find solutions to reoccurring problems.

The first Asian-American Pulitzer Prize winner spoke at Pruis Hall on Monday.

Sheryl WuDunn encouraged volunteerism and community activism at her talk on Monday at Pruis Hall. WuDann is the author of “Half the Sky” and “A Path Appears” and won the Pulitzer Prize while working in Beijing for the New York Times. DN PHOTO JONATHAN MIKSANEK

Among other stories, she focused on people being a solution to the problems they see by volunteering.

WuDunn said a nine-year-old, Rachel Beckwood, gave all of her birthday money to Charity Water in order to help build wells in Africa. Shortly after, Beckwood was in a car accident and was severely injured, and later died. The account ended up raising $1.2 million.

“Hope is like a path in the countryside,” WuDunn said, quoting Chinese essayist, Lu Xun. “Originally, there is nothing – but as people are walking all the time in the same spot, a path appears.”

Bri Pierce, a sophomore public communications major, said she liked the hope behind Xun’s quote, and the idea that people need to keep revisiting issues in the world to find a solution.

Volunteering to help promote education and childhood development are two ways students can help reduce poverty, WuDunn said.

WuDunn promoted utero development of a child, and said most of a child’s mental and emotional growth happens in the mother’s womb. She said by age four, it is too late for a child to develop early childhood skills. Poor child development leads to poverty, she said.

“By helping a child, you are not just fixing the child, but fixing the family as well,” WuDunn said.

WuDunn and her husband, Nicolas Kristof, a New York Times columnist, were the first married couple to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize for their reporting on Tiananmen Square protests, massacre and other major stories in China and Southeast Asia.

“My husband and I are trying to unveil the facts to show that there are solutions,” WuDunn said.

The couple wrote two best-selling books, “Half the Sky” and “A Path Appears.” “Half the Sky” explains struggles of women worldwide while “A Path Appears” offers a solution to those challenges, WuDunn said.

“The world is a mess,” WuDunn said, “but if you contribute to a cause greater than yourself, you can at least create a purpose for your life.”

After her presentation, audience members were able to purchase both “Half the Sky” and “A Path Appears” and have them signed.

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