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NYT's Kristof to give lecture

Global poverty, education focus

Nicholas Kristof has been no stranger to danger during his career as a New York Times columnist. In Cambodia, he purchased two girls from a brothel and returned them to their families. In Indonesia, he ran into a mob carrying heads on pikes.

On the Duke University campus last year, he joked that students from UNC and Duke nearly got in “periods of fist-fights.” Kristof said he will avoid that situation on Tuesday, when he delivers the free Frank Porter Graham lecture at 7:30 p.m. in Memorial Hall. He will also be discussing his book, “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.”

DTH: What’s bringing you to UNC?

Nicholas Kristof: UNC and the whole area seem particularly interested in “Half the Sky” and really engaged in student activism, humanitarian involvement and how to create a better world. So I’ve actually ended up spending more time in North Carolina as a whole, on one campus or another, than I’d ever expected.

DTH: What will be the focus of the talk?

NK: Global poverty is always a theme. I really think we have a chance now to make serious inroads in global poverty. I think education is a really cheap and hugely important way to do away with poverty, extremism, fundamentalism. So that will probably be the theme.

DTH: How much of the talk and examples you spoke of will be geared toward women’s empowerment?

NK: I do think that the central moral issue of this century is the push for greater gender equality around the globe. So, a lot of the examples are drawn from that area. But not everybody is going to want to focus on those issues. I want to talk about tools that are applicable for people, whatever they’re interested in.

DTH: A lot of your columns highlight foundations. Are those the tools you will discuss?

NK: Students obviously aren’t in the position of a lot of my column readers of pulling out a checkbook and writing a check. They aren’t in that stage of the life cycle. What I do encourage students to do is to travel outside of their comfort zone, whether that is abroad or the wrong side of the tracks … To find something that would give your parents gray hairs.

DTH: Will you be joined on-stage with your wife, Sheryl WuDunn, who co-wrote the book?

NK: No, we have three kids so we almost never travel together for fear that we’d be promoting international human rights at the expense of our kids.

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