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Final Bryan Series speaker receives mixed reviews
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about America's place in the world and his
view on our country's future. He closed by
offering advice to the audience about the age
"We used to live in a connected world, but
now we live in a hyper-connected world,"
Friedman said. "I was reading the first
edition of my book, "The World is Flat" just
to remind myself of what I had written. I
noticed something about it.
Facebook wasn't in it, neither was Twitter.
We are even more connected now than when
I originally claimed the world was flat. When
I wrote the book, Facebook wasn't invented
yet. Twitter was a sound. Applications were
something you sent to colleges, and clouds
were in the sky."
Friedman's point about the hyper
connectivity of the world received mixed
responses from the Guilford community.
"I completely agree," said Andy Strickler,
dean of admission and financial aid. "Either
through his example of Syria News Network,
or watching my brother set up a call center in
India, his idea that the world has made a very
stark transformation is completely accurate."
Jim Hood, professor of English, is not sure
if these changes are good for society or not.
"Just because we can exchange information
with incredible ease, does that mean we are
necessarily more connected to one another
as human beings in the ways that really
matter?" said Hood. "I wonder if all our
dependence upon devices is actually causing-
us to hyper-disconnect from our families.
human traditions and natural landscapes —
the actual places where we live and breathe.
The Internet won't mean crap if we don't
have good air and water and food."
Friedman then discussed the changing
meaning of "average" and pushed the
audience to do more.
"Used to be, you could drop out of high
school and get an average job at the steel mill
paying average wages, have enough money
to buy an average house, have (an) average
two point zero kids, live an average life and
have an average funeral, and have an average
obituary," said Friedman. "Average used to
be great. It's not working anymore. Today,
the main employer in Baltimore is Johns
Hopkins Medical Center. You can't cut the
grass over there without a bachelor's degree.
Average is officially over. Find your extra."
Instructional Technology Librarian Jessica
"Fifty years ago, people with a high
school degree could get a very good job and
support their family," Sender said. "That's
significantly harder to do today, if not almost
impossible. His explanation resonated with
me. In a time when students from all over
the world are competing for jobs and careers,
standing out among the crowd gets harder
and harder. I also liked that he applied it'to
his own work. It's not just young people that
are struggling to make their mark."
Julie Winterich, associate professor of
sociology and anthropology, has a completely
different interpretation of Friedman's ideas
"If we're all special, aren't we all the new
average?" said Winterich. "Seriously, I found
that point too decontextualized and focused
on the individual. There was no discussion
of structural inequality, racism, classism,
sexism, homophobia, etc.
"I found his talk too focused on the
individual, as if we live in a social and
cultural vacuum, and too focused on global
competition for jobs."
Diya Abdo, assistant professor of English,
concurs with Winterich.
"I am not sure this is the kind of challenge
I want Guilford students to take on," said
Abdo. "At Guilford, we strive for excellence,
to become more. But, that's excellence
in equality, in integrity, in humanity, in
stewardship, in global citizenship, in being in
community, in principled problem solving. I
am sure Friedman wants those things, but
what I heard yesterday was a clear focus on
excellence above others because of anxiety
and fear of others."
Friedman closed by offering the audience
the same advice he offers his daughters.
"Think like an immigrant — stay hungry,"
Friedman said. "Think like an artisan — take
pride in what you do so that you'll want to
carve your initials in your work. Think like
a starter-upper — stay in beta mode and
constantly redefine yourself.
"Think like a waitress at the Perkins
Pancake House in Minnesota," said
Friedman of his favorite restaurant, where
a waitress gave his friend extra fruit and
received a higher tip as a result. "Whatever
you do, whatever job you're in, think
entrepreneurially. Think about how you can
invent, reinvent or add something extra."
His closing advice also received both
positive and negative responses.
"I loved it," said Sender. "I think it's very
poignant and really good advice to carry
Adrienne Israel, vice president for
academic affairs and academic dean, would
offer counter advice.
"I would advise my own children
to develop their spiritual lives, their
relationships with God and to learn how to
consistently respect others, especially when
under pressure or when there is no one
else around," said Israel. "I would advise
them to develop a strong sense of purpose
and identity, to learn how to be kind and to
remember that relationships make life
Even general impressions of the speech
"I thought it was a great and provocative
speech," said Kent Chabotar, president
and professor of political science. "Hyper-
connected and average were words that
resonated with me. In terms of how Guilford
is improving its global education, check out
Strategic Long Range Plan II."
Max Carter, director of the Friends Center
and campus ministry coordinator, left the
speech with a different impression.
"Entertaining and. informative but a mile
wide and an inch deep," said:''Carter.’"What
is the purpose of 'keeping up with China?'
Is it to make more money? I didn't hear. I
would have liked more substance to his
philosophical view of the world."
We approved, in principle, the creation of an endowed scholarship fund for
undocumented students, as well as advocacy on campus towards that purpose.
Angela Reiter and Andy Strickler joined us for a productive forum about
marketing. Please contact them If you have feedback about marketing or
Next Week's Plans
In a special session of Community Senate we will present the annual Dick Dyer
Awards as well as the 10 community scholarships.We will then present and ask
for approval of the official student activities fees budget for next year.
Please join us for this special event from 6—8 p.m. in the Gilmer Room in the
Cafeteria. Dinner will be served!
We need to hear your voice! Have an idea? Concern? Great recipe? It’s important
Questions? Email: senate(gguilford.edu or visit
Compiled by Tim Leisman, Community Senate President
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