On Monday, Nov. 9, Wittenberg hosted Nicholas D. Kristof, Pulitzer Prize-Winning New York Times columnist. A monumental figure in both journalism and human rights, Kristof has been called the “reporter’s reporter.” He came to deliver the Fred R. Leventhal Family Endowed Lecture as a part of the Wittenberg Series. The lecture was titled “A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity.”
The subject matter of much of Kristof’s writing is heavy. His reporting is devoted to war and oppression, around the globe and in America. The talk dealt with a range of serious national and global issues, but Kristof’s message was one of hope.
He began by addressing local affairs. Kristof mentioned Wittenberg’s struggles of late, and warmly assured his audience that “tigers always prevail.” Kristof revealed his own high school’s mascot was a tiger.
Kristof was never behind the podium – he moved about the stage, gesturing with his hands and speaking amiably. He gave explicit advice to the college students in the audience: “Get out of your comfort zone. Do something that stretches you.”
Kristof described his study abroad experience in Egypt as overwhelming. But, “it is good to be bewildered,” he said. Kristof emphasized that getting out of your comfort zone necessitates crossing borders.
“You can do that right here in Ohio, too,” he said. He encouraged students to do something like tutor children “on the wrong side of the tracks.”
Kristof then moved on to global issues. He shared stories from his career, speaking plainly, but never in a way that made the issues seem uncomplicated. By the end of the talk, he said earnestly that “helping people is a lot harder than it looks. You have to take risks on people, and they break your heart, over and over.”
Even if one does succeed in helping someone, it can easily be seen as one drop in the bucket, he said. Kristof addressed this with certainty: “I am a believer in drops in the bucket. That is how you fill the bucket.”