North Carolina Newspapers

    OCTOBER 14, 2009 ] THE MEREDITH HERALD • Educating Women to Excel \ VOL XXVI • ISSUE VI
School Board
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Amy Hruby
Staff Writer
•- On Thursday, October 1,
Wangari Maathai, a Nobel Peace
Prize laureate, visited Meredith
College to lecture on her experi
ences in founding the Green Belt
Movement. Maathai was educated
at Mount St. Scholastica and atthe
University of Pittsburgh before be
coming tile first woman in East and
Central Africa to earn a doctoral .
degree: her Ph.D. in anatomy from
the University of Nairobi. Since
then, she has become a politi
cal activist in Kenya, persistently
struggling for democracy, and an
environmental activist worldwide,
creating a grassroots organization
that alms to improve the environ
ment and female quality of life in
Africa by empovyering.groups pf‘
women to plant trees. Drawing
heavily on her memoir, Unbowed.
Maathai treated Meredith students
and the Raleigh community to a
lecture that included anecdotes
froin her childhood In Kenya,
reflections on the sexual discrimi
nation she faced in the Kenyan
university system, methods for
starting the Green Belt Movement,
and advice for Americans hoping
to further tier environmental cause.
Dr. Maathai delivered the 2009
Lillian Parker Wallace lecture in the
Mclver Amphitheater, flanked by ,
tropical plants and uhderthe light
of a waxing moon: a place she
Photo courtesy media2.newsobserver.eom/smedia/2009/10S1/21
called "the best setting ever.” Be^-
. fore beginnjng, President MaureeQ,
Hartford presented Maathai with
an honorary Doctor of Humane
Letters honoris causa degree. After
thanking President Hartford and
Meredith College, Maathai began
the lecture with a story of playing
with fish eggs in her youth. Her
uninformed fascination with the
translucent beads, then with the
miniscule, swimming tadpoles,
and finally with the tiny, jumping
frogs fostered her early love for
biology, a subject she later went
on to study. As an adult. Maathai
discovered that the stream where
she had watched this life cycle in
her youth had been destroyed be
cause of devel
opment in the
area, and she
cited this mo
ment of clarity
as significant,
showing her
that she needed
to dp Something
to help save her.
country's natu
ral resources.
’ Maathai
went on to ..
discuss the
timewhen she
served on the
National Coun
cil.of Women.
She said that
she “learried of
Photo courtesy issueS from
rural women
[on this council] with their tales of
lack.of clean vyater and firewood.”
Her thoughts on how to help them
led her to create the Green Belt
Movement, a grassroots orga
nization originally developed to
educate women on environmental
issues. Maathai first asked the
women "What are your prob- '
lems?" and then "Where did the
problems come from?” Analyzing
these answers led her to formu
late what she called the “Wrong
Bus Syndrome.” Maathai asserted
that the rural Kenyans’ problems
stemmed from riding the wrong
bus. Kenya was being led by a cor
rupt, nondemocratic government,
and Maathai argued that “people
must eventually take charge and
change the direction the bus was
traveling." The Kenyan population
needed to demand a democratic
government to change their lives.
Maathai stated that even though
a revolution occurred in 1991, the
Kenyan people still needed to push
the bus in the right direction and
demand that their country become
“a democratic space where all
rights would be respected.”
Maathai also argued that the
global population was on the
“wrong bus” as regards environ
mental issues. People need to stop
ignoring problems with environ
ment and turn the bus around to
save the planet. In attempts to turn
the Meredith College bus around, .
• to fulfill the campus theme "Cata
lyst for Change,” and to honor
Maathai’s work with the Green
continued on pg 2
Green Tip for
the Week of
October 14
Many schools are blazing
and exciting eco-friendly trail
so choose a green college
to support your greening

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