Recordings of Convocations
- Created 2 May 2014; Published 11 December 2014Convocation: Kao Kalia Yang ’03
Kao Kalia Yang ’03 is a Minnesota writer with a story that stretches across the globe. The daughter of Hmong immigrants to Minnesota, Yang was born in a Thai refugee camp, Ban Vinai, in 1980. Her family came to Minnesota when she was seven.
In her book, The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir, Yang recounts her family's journey from Laos to Minnesota—from her parents' first encounter and unceremonious marriage in the jungles of Laos, to their harrowing escape into Thailand, and subsequent relocation to Minnesota. In The Latehomecomer, Yang struggles to feel a sense of home—new to Minnesota, and cultural heir to centuries of homelessness. Yang’s interest in writing arose from her struggle with speaking English.
A graduate of Carleton College and Columbia University, Yang and her sister founded Words Wanted, a company dedicated to helping immigrants with writing, translating, and business services. The title of her presentation is "Returning To Our Stories."
- Created 25 April 2014; Published 11 December 2014Convocation: Philip Lilienthal
Philip Lilienthal is the founder and president of Global Camps Africa, a nonprofit whose mission is to empower children for an AIDS-free tomorrow. Global Camps Africa changes the lives of South Africa’s vulnerable children and youth by providing HIV/AIDS prevention education and training through high-impact residential and day camp experiences and continuing education, equipping young people with the life skills that will support them in becoming safe and productive adults who have hope for the future.
A former Peace Corps volunteer in Ethiopia and a veteran camp owner in the United States, Lilienthal brought together his belief in the transformational nature of camp and his passion for helping people around the globe to create a powerful force in the lives of South African children.
In 2013, the National Peace Corps Association awarded Lilienthal the annual Sargent Shriver Award for Distinguished Humanitarian Service. Named for the first Peace Corps Director, the annual award is given to a returned Peace Corps volunteer who continues to make a sustained and distinguished contribution, whether that be to humanitarian causes at home, abroad, or through innovative social entrepreneurial efforts to bring out significant long term change. The title of his presentation is "Having Fun and Doing Good: Impacting HIV/AIDS Through Experiential Learning (the Camp Experience)."
- Created 18 April 2014; Published 11 December 2014Convocation: Derreck Kayongo
A former Ugandan refugee, Derreck Kayongo created a global business vision out of his challenging life experience. In 1979, when Kayongo was ten, his family fled the civil war in Uganda for a better life in America. He never forgot the experience of homelessness and living in a refugee camp, and today he has made it his mission to help save the lives of millions of children in developing countries, one bar of soap at a time.
Each year, an estimated 3.5 million children die from illnesses like diarrhea and pneumonia, which can be prevented through improved hygiene and sanitation. In 2009, Kayongo and his wife founded the Global Soap Project, which donates melted, purified and reprocessed hotel soap to vulnerable populations, an astonishingly simple yet highly effective and sustainable approach to global health.
Since establishing his non-profit, Kayongo has become known as a widely respected global health leader and social entrepreneur, and in 2011 he was among CNN’s "Top Ten Heroes" of the year. Prior to Global Soap, he served in leadership roles in some of the world's top NGOs, including the American Friends Service Committee and Amnesty International. He currently serves as Senior Advocacy Coordinator with CARE International and is a regular columnist with The Huffington Post. The title of his presentation is “Recycle Soap, Save a Village.”
- Created 11 April 2014; Published 2 September 2014Convocation: Mel Duncan
In an age when unarmed civilians are apt to get caught in the crosshairs of conflict, Mel Duncan has a radical idea about who should stave off war's "collateral damage:" other unarmed civilians. Duncan's Nonviolent Peaceforce, founded in 2002, dispatches international teams of trained, unarmed peacekeepers to conflict zones where civil society has been caught in the crossfire. Unlike the blue-helmeted U.N. troops, these peacekeepers are immersed in local society to make connections and build trust. Their lack of weapons helps, too. "Peacekeeping isn't always most effective when it’s done at the end of a gun," says Duncan. Sometimes simply being a presence can provide protection. Often, serving as a conduit of nonpartisan information is key.
Duncan’s peacekeepers go only where they've been invited by civil society groups, and where extensive analysis determines that their presence and limited resources can be effective. "No one can make anyone else’s peace for them," says Duncan. "[We] help create the space where local people can do their work and stay alive." The title of his presentation is "Nonviolent Peacekeeping: Hard Nosed Hope in a Tough World."
- Created 4 April 2014; Published 14 April 2014Convocation: Annie Houle
Annie Houle is National Director of Campus and Community Initiatives for The WAGE Project, Inc., an organization established for one purpose: to end discrimination against women in the American workplace in the near future. Over her working life, a woman will earn $1 million less than a man simply because she is a woman. WAGE (Women Are Getting Even) seeks to eliminate the gender wage gap for every woman in America, inspiring and helping working women to take the steps needed so that every woman is paid what she’s worth. The title of her presentation is "Eliminating the Gender Wage Gap."
- Created 28 February 2014; Published 27 March 2014Convocation: Stewart Ramsey
Social entrepreneur Stewart Ramsey is on a mission to revolutionize what it means to do business and to do good. As a college student in 2007, Ramsey and three close friends founded Krochet Kids intl. (KKi), a non-profit lifestyle brand focused on empowering communities and engaging customers to make a sustainable impact on global poverty.
As high schools students, Ramsey and friends began selling hats they crocheted for a little spending money and were dubbed the “Krochet Kids” by their hometown newspaper. But they never imagined the hobby would blossom into a global movement. Ramsey discovered his passion while he was traveling around the world learning to volunteer.
During one trip to northern Uganda on his summer break from college, he encountered a population of people who had become isolated and dependent upon others due to the impact of a rebel army. Yet, he also saw the desire and capability they had to change their circumstances, if given the opportunity. His experiences became the foundation for the work of KKi.
Featured in Bloomberg Businessweek, Krochet Kids employs more than 100 people in Northern Uganda through the production of their handmade headwear and fashion accessories and have recently started a new program in Peru. Now spanning three continents, their work connects the producer with the customer through a hand-signed label that accompanies every product. The title of his presentation is “Sustainable Social Entrepreneurship: Creating a Cycle of Success.”
- Created 21 February 2014; Published 27 March 2014Convocation: Joan Morgan
An award-winning journalist and author, Joan Morgan is a provocative cultural critic. Her groundbreaking book, When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost, marked the literary debut of one of the most original, perceptive and engaging young social commentators in America today. In this fresh, funky, and ferociously honest book, Morgan bravely probed the complex issues facing African-American women in today's world: a world where feminists often have not-so-clandestine affairs with the most sexist of men; where women who treasure their independence often prefer men who pick up the tab; and where the deluge of babymothers and babyfathers reminds black women who long for marriage that traditional nuclear families are a reality for less than 40 percent of the African-American population.
In light of the candidacy and election of President Barack Obama, Morgan now takes a look at the changing racial and ethnic composition of America since Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his "I Have A Dream" speech in 1963 and examines several insightful questions: What would Dr. King make of the changing makeup of America and its impact on America's black and white racial binary? Who are we talking about in 2013, when we use the term African American? How useful is it to still use the terms Black and African American interchangeably? And finally, what impact does this heterogeneous and multi-ethnic American Blackness have on the country from a political, social and economic perspective? The title of her presentation is "Is America 'Post-Racial'?"
- Created 14 February 2014; Published 27 March 2014Convocation: Kimberly Bryant
BlackGirlsCode was founded in 2011 by Kimberly Bryant, a biotechnology/engineering professional, to meet the needs of young women of color who are underrepresented in the currently exploding field of technology. Her vision is to increase the number of women of color in the digital space by empowering preteen and teenage girls of color to become innovators in science/technology/engineering/math fields, leaders in their communities, and builders of their own futures through exposure to computer science and technology. The title of her presentation is "Behind the Click: Securing the Future for Girls of Color as the Tech Leaders and Creators of Tomorrow."
- Created 7 February 2014; Published 27 March 2014Convocation: Joy DeGruy
Renowned educator, psychologist, and social worker Joy DeGruy is the author of Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America’s Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing. While African Americans managed to emerge from chattel slavery and the oppressive decades that followed with great strength and resiliency, they did not emerge unscathed. Slavery produced centuries of physical, psychological and spiritual injury. Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome lays the groundwork for understanding how the past has influenced the present, and opens up the discussion of how we can eliminate non-productive attitudes, beliefs and adaptive behaviors and, build upon the strengths we have gained from the past to heal injuries of today.
- Created 31 January 2014; Published 27 March 2014Convocation: Marco Werman
Marco Werman is the host and senior producer of Public Radio International's "The World," a weekday radio news magazine offering a mix of news, features, interviews, and music from around the globe. A former Peace Corps volunteer, Werman got his start in radio while freelancing in Burkina Faso, West Africa, for the BBC World Service, where he later worked as a producer. In 1995, he was invited to assist in creating the format for The World where he has worked since.
In 1997, he began producing the Global Hit segment, in which musicians and musical trends around the globe are linked and used as a lens to understand the news. Werman has received awards for an original radio drama, for an exposé on child labor in West African gold mines, for a BBC documentary on the 1987 assassination of Burkina Faso’s president, and for coverage of diversity issues. Werman was the first of American television and radio journalist to go to Libya after Muammar al-Gaddafi renounced weapons of mass destruction in December 2003, and in 2007 won an Emmy for his story "Libya: Out of the Shadow" on the PBS program Frontline/World, about the 2006 total solar eclipse that brought thousands of tourists to Libya just after it had rejoined the community of nations.
Werman will discuss the importance of public broadcast as a means of keeping Americans informed and connected with global issues. The title of his presentation is "Stories, Not Punditry."
- Created 24 January 2014; Published 27 March 2014Convocation: Sidney Wolff '62
Since Galileo first looked through a telescope at the moons of Jupiter, we have been finding better ways to gaze at the heavens. And since Sidney Wolff '62 started her career in astronomy, she has been involved in many of the most cutting-edge new telescope projects.
Truly a "starblazer," Wolff is the first woman to serve as director of a major U.S. observatory and to have led the construction of six premier telescopes. She also is the founding editor of Astronomy Education Review. In addition, Wolff’s research on stellar atmospheres and the evolution, formation, and composition of stars is internationally recognized. The title of her presentation is "Exploring New Worlds."
- Created 17 January 2014; Published 27 March 2014Convocation: Lewis Hyde
Regarded as an intellectual among artists, and an artist among intellectuals, Lewis Hyde is a scholar, essayist, translator, cultural critic and writer whose scholarly work focuses on the nature of imagination, creativity, and property. Hyde offers a stirring defense of our cultural commons, that vast store of art and ideas we have inherited from the past and continue to enrich in the present.
Suspicious of the current idea that all creative work is “intellectual property,” Hyde turns to America’s Founding Fathers—men such as Adams, Madison, and Jefferson—in search of other ways to imagine the fruits of human wit and imagination. What he ends up describing is a rich tradition in which knowledge was assumed to be a commonwealth, not a private preserve. For the founders, democratic self-governance itself demanded open and easy access to ideas. So did the growth of creative communities such as that of eighteenth-century science. And so did the flourishing of public persons, the very actors whose “civic virtue” brought the nation into being.
Bringing the past to bear on present matters, Hyde sheds fresh light on everything from the Human Genome Project to Bob Dylan’s musical roots. In so doing, he allows us to stand on the shoulders of America’s revolutionary giants and thus to see beyond today’s narrow debates over cultural ownership. What he reveals is nothing less than a vision of how to reclaim the commonwealth of art and ideas that we were meant to inherit. The title of his presentation is "Common as Air: Revolution, Art, and Ownership."
- Created 8 November 2013; Published 27 March 2014Convocation: Zonnie Gorman
Recognized historian of the Navajo Code Talkers of World War II, Zonnie Gorman is an expert in her field and a dedicated teacher. The daughter of one of the original Code Talkers, she appeared in and been consultant to several documentaries including the History Channel documentary Navajo Code Talkers, the movie Windtalkers, and the documentary True Whispers.
In addition to serving as consultant for museum exhibitions and books on the subject, Gorman has lectured extensively throughout the United States at colleges and universities, museums and other institutions, including the Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC.
Gorman is currently the Project Coordinator for the Circle of Light Navajo Educational Project, a nonprofit organization that offers a variety of Navajo role models to youth and fosters cultural pride and self-worth, while educating them along with non-Navajos about the rich history, culture, language and contributions of the Navajo people. The title of her presentation is "Growing Up With Heroes: Navajo Code Talkers of World War II."
- Created 1 November 2013; Published 27 March 2014Convocation: Matt Ginsberg
As co-founder and CEO of On Time Systems Inc., Matt Ginsberg has helped develop computer programs to build U.S. Navy ships more efficiently and to find the most-fuel-saving routes for U.S. Air Force noncombat flights. The company’s "Green Driver" app uses data from a city’s traffic signalsto help guide drivers on a route with the fewest red lights, saving time and fuel.
Some of the statistical techniques in this work are also handy, it turns out, for solving crossword puzzles. Ginsberg has created more than 30 crossword puzzles for The New York Times, and with his expertise in artificial intelligence created Dr. Fill, a crossword solving computer program. Ginsberg is also the author of the world’s first expert-level bridge-playing program.
While Ginsberg and On Time Systems Inc. seek to use technology to make the world a better place, the real life lesson is that just because you can build a better mousetrap doesn't mean it will be accepted. The title of his presentation is "Of Mousetraps and Men: A Cautionary Tale."
- Created 25 October 2013; Published 15 November 2013Convocation: Angela "Bay" Buchanan
Angela "Bay" Buchanan's distinguished political career began when she was appointed Treasurer of the United States in 1981. At the age of 32, she was the youngest person to hold that position since it was established in 1775. Buchanan has served as chair of Team America, a political action committee devoted to border security and immigration reform. She also served as senior advisor to the Mitt Romney presidential campaign and is currently president of The American Cause, an educational foundation dedicated to advancing traditional conservative issues.
Buchanan has co-anchored "Equal Time," a political talk show initially on CNBC, then MSNBC, and served as a political analyst for "Good Morning America." After appearing regularly on CNN's "Inside Politics," she became a commentator for CNN's "The Situation Room."
Buchanan has examined the history of immigration to the United States, the dramatic changes in the last thirty years, and the consequences of those changes. She will discuss the political debate surrounding this issue today, the players on each side, and the differing proposals being offered, to bring sense to an immigration policy that she believes doesn’t work from anyone's perspective. The title of her presentation is "U.S. Immigration: The History and the Consequences."