International Education keynote speaker Jerome McDonnell emphasizes looking on the bright side
    Worldview Host Jerome McDonnell at WBEZ (NPR Chicago) spoke this Thursday night in Scott Hall as the keynote speaker for Northwestern’s International Education Week, which began on Nov. 16. Close to 20 students and ten staff members attended for reasons ranging from curiosity to love of McDonnell’s show, Worldview, to being student ambassadors of Northwestern’s Global Exchange program.

    Much like McDonnell’s program, the evening’s focus was on increasing international understanding and spotlighted the value of studying abroad. He brought with him Ugandan-American journalist Kisuule Magala Katende and Northwestern alumnus Aaron Faucher to better highlight the joys of cultural exchange.

    After a week of world news filled with turmoil, McDonnell and the two panelists spoke about their “fun, exciting, and surprising” experiences with other countries, focusing on a positive take on the world. Faucher’s account of his trip to a Ugandan nightclub and Katende's experience with American country music as a Ugandan just having emigrated to the United States were both sprinkled with universal snorts of laughter across the audience.

    “There’s so much fear out there these days in our news,” said McDonnell. “[There is] talk about refugees and everything has just been miserable. I think there’s not much to fear in the world. We are generally, I have found, surrounded by nice people who want to help each other out.”

    Faucher and Katende both attest to McDonnell’s refreshingly positive take on the world and are advocates of the lessons one can learn by studying abroad. Faucher said that studying abroad “changed [his] worldview,” and even more so led him to experience a “change in process of how [he sees] the way of life in the United States.”

    Katende, who returns occasionally to Uganda with his wife and children, agrees that going back and forth between two countries can illuminate a startling contrast. “We try to get our children to see the difference and understand it,” he said.

    The importance of “understanding” the difference versus just seeing it brought both men to address the linked idea of responsibility. “It is a privilege having so much, but there is a responsibility that comes with how much you can do with it,” said Katende.

    McDonnell concluded the program by talking about the opportunities society provides to globalize issues. Today, topics like racism, income, and health care are being thought of transnationally more than ever; it is the whole world’s job to work together and fix these problems, and engage in “healthy discussions” about different ways of doing so. “People want to connect, people want to make a difference,” said McDonnell. “We want to address the problems of our day and of our future. We want to have our kids grow up in a world that’s nicer and better and we can make that world. We shouldn’t get down about the fear that we see in our news.”


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