Yesterday was a bit of a rollercoaster. I bounced out of bed to see how the exhibit was doing in the inclement weather. Thankfully, the rains just missed hitting it directly and the plastic prophylactics were covering it as necessary. As any public health practitioner will tell you, always use protection. But just as I thought the storm had passed, a deluge of rain came down. Sheets and sheets. I shook my fist at the heavens and ran back to school to check on it. Once I was convinced that the exhibit was safe, I breathed a sigh of relief.
As the clouds started to roll past and the blue started peering out, students began walking in and out of the exhibit. I noticed a gentleman talking a picture of my pictures, and so I told him that if he waited a bit, all the plastic would be off. He mentioned that he was a journalist from the China Press, a newspaper in China. We began chatting and he interviewed me on the exhibit, the 21st Century Family of Man exhibit, my travels in China and my work on the Jewish community of China. I will post the article (in Chinese) when it appears. Meanwhile, Neon Tommy did a story about my exhibit.
Eventually the sun came out and dried up the landy-landy, and all the coverings came off. The reception began in the evening, and many friends came out to support. Here are my remarks at the opening (sans the thanks):
Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”
So what is it that we give?
As I began my journey, I started reading Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” on the long road south.
His is the story of a father and a son making their way through a post-apocalyptic world…It’s a love story.
It is a love story about a father’s love for his son and what it is that we all live by- the notion of “carrying the fire”
In a world gone dark, it is the story of those who fight on to carry that sacred fire that lights humanity.
Public Diplomacy is about carrying the fire to light a world unseen, to give a voice to a world unheard.
Public Diplomacy as a field is about collecting and connecting the disparate sounds and voices of a babeled world and combining them into global symphony.
Public diplomacy is a subtle reminder that this lovely oasis we occupy is not how the rest of the desert lives. Please be mindful.
Public Health is also about carrying the fire. Carrying the fire to those dealing with myriads maladies. It is the earnest attempt to heal a world still so sick. It is about that most basic human condition of caring for those in need.
This is the fire we carry. These are the lives we give
So it is my distinct pleasure to bring together tonight the fields of public health and public diplomacy. I hope you mingle; I think you will find common cause. You share far more than the “public” in your name. As Humphrey Bogart said, I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship.
And to all those fighting the good fight, be it public diplomacy or public health, I have two simple words for you: Fight On!
I also pulled a little PS surprise, and I brought my roommie Andrea up to sing:
John Newton was a slave trader in England. He was wandering lost one night through London, when he passed a church and when heard the choir singing. Moved by the spirit of the music, he left his former profession and went on to become a minister and an abolitionist; I would consider him a public diplomat. He went on to write hymns, one in particular that is still sung today.This isn't Andrea, but you get the point:
As you may have noticed, there is a section that is dedicated to my friend Jerry Morales. He was on my Rotary Group Study Exchange trip in Southern Africa
Down in South Africa, amid the heaviness of days, we were walking through a township. Our spirits were flagging, when we heard this sublime sound coming from a classroom. It was a group of teachers singing gospel music. As it lifted our flagging spirits, I asked them to sing "Amazing Grace." With tears in his eyes, Jerry said afterwards that it was his favorite song. In honor of Easter, in honor of Passover- the first holiday of abolition and in honor of my friend Jerry, Andrea is going to sing Amazing Grace."