The Ritz Carlton, in the heart of Washington D.C, was bustling with ambassadors, CEOs, presidents, and movers and shakers in the international and education realm on March 29, 2017.
The World Affairs Education Gala brought together leaders from over 75 nations and honored five amazing individuals and organizations that demonstrated strong leadership in education and in international affairs. Honorees such as Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, the Ambassador of Columbia to the United States, the President & CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the President & CEO of Blackboard Inc., and the President of Marymount University were honored for making strides and for being pioneers in their chosen fields.
I had the honor of attending this exclusive event recently. As an avid supporter public media journalism it was both a privilege and an honor to watch Pat Harrison, President and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting accept the 2017 Global Communications Award on behalf of men and women who are courageous enough to fight for unbiased truth. Her tireless work in congress to save funding for PBS and for NPR is not unnoticed. “A strong civil society really requires citizens which are informed, which is why we fund news beyond a sound bite,” said Harrison. “We make this commitment [to journalism] because our return on investment is an educated public.”
Along with Harrison’s pivotal remarks, I was equally impressed with Megan Jenkins, WAC-DC’s 2017 Future Global Leadership scholarship candidate. Her experience with global education programs majorly shaped her personal development and skills in contrasts to years spent in a classroom environment. Simply put, learning by hands-on cultural immersion can switch young millennials into sympathetic international citizens instead of apathetic hashtag readers.
Along with individual winners being praised, The Republic of Columbia received the council’s 2017 Distinguished Diplomatic Service Award which was accepted by Carlos Pinzon, who serves as the ambassador to the U.S. His speech on preparing future generations of students for success in the global economy and on sustaining peace across the Americas and around the world was refreshing to hear. Peace and finding common ground with other cultures is the best bridge for international relationships not only within the Americas but also for all countries across the world.
The grand finale of the night was Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, keynote address and her acceptance of the 2017 Global Ambassador Award on behalf of the Jane Goodall Institute. I remember watching videos of her when I was growing up whenever I took a science class in elementary and in middle school. She was fearless and engaging with the chimps. She also showed the world that chimps have human traits such as learning sign language, having relationships, and with getting their feelings hurt over complex matters. What’s interesting to note is that all of this wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for her mother’s support.
In Goodall’s speech, she thanked her mother for letting her be her. To let her be that weird girl who spent all night inside of their family’s chicken shack just so she can learn about where eggs come from. To let her know that even though no woman has ever explored the African continent to learn more about the behaviors of chimps (and how they contrast with textbooks she read at the time) that she can do it–irregardless of how difficult this path was going to be.
Life lessons were emboldened throughout tonight’s speeches on perseverance, the beauty of cultural understanding, and the importance of protecting public education. It was a treasure to be there and a greater honor to learn from these remarkable folks.
About the World Affairs Council-Washington DC
WAC-DC hosts public presentations, debates and fora on global education and international affairs in the Washington, DC-metro area. Programs include general public, diplomatic, political, business events, town hall meetings, professional development seminars, and international communications programs. It also produces a one hour weekly television program, World Affairs TODAY, that is distributed on MHZ Networks to 25 million homes nationwide and globally on multiple digital platforms.
The World Affairs Council-Washington DC is a non-profit and non-partisan organization dedicated to facilitating collaboration throughout the global education and international affairs community by developing informed geo-political insights and critical thinking with a global perspective; and providing programs to educate, enlighten and empower students, educators, professionals, the American public and international community. To learn more about the World Affairs Council-Washington, DC, visit http://www.worldaffairsdc.org.