Pearls, Politics, & Power

20May08

Many thanks to Boundless Meanderings for letting us know about this:

Farah Pandith ’90 is the subject of a recent Boston Globe article about her international work creating dialogue and conversation around religion, culture, and integration.

Here’s an excerpt:

Eighteen years after she graduated from Smith College, Farah Pandith, her hair neatly coifed in a flip, her tailored pink jacket and dark skirt accented with a string of pearls, her White House folder in hand, visits her alma mater. […] In returning to this bucolic campus, Pandith returns to the place where she first wrestled with diversity as a political issue and where her nascent career received an unexpected nudge from Barbara Bush.

In the spring of 1989, Smith was one of several campuses rocked by racial incidents, in this case a note saying “go back to the jungle” slipped under an African-American student’s door. “That, literally, is the starting point of Farah in government,” Pandith says. “The very issues we were confronting on campus are issues I’m dealing with in Europe every day.”

The following fall, Pandith, as Smith’s new student body president, addressed the issue in her convocation speech. “Diversity,” she said, “like anything worth having . . . requires effort.” Also on the podium was the first lady, who attended Smith for two years before leaving to marry George H.W. Bush.

The next day the White House called. Barbara Bush wanted a copy of Pandith’s speech and permission to quote from it.

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