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.
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.