NATO Brings Madeleine Albright and Mayhem

Hedy Gutfreund Editorials Editor On Wednesday, May 2, several student members of LIFE along with alumni, Mr. Fript, Ms. Dorer-Fitzpatrick, and Ms. Steenveld-Hamilton got the opportunity to see former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright speak in an event sponsored by The Chicago Council. Albright played a major part in expanding NATO and has been instrumental in the conference coming to Chicago May 20-21. She was interviewed by Margot Pritzker, which gave the presentation a personal touch. In the interview format, she spoke on topics ranging from the stories in her book Prague Winter to the significance of the broaches she wore on her jacket to NATO. Albright’s Jewish parents fled the Czech Republic to England to escape the Nazis and assumed Christian identities. Until very late in her life, Albright was unaware that she was Jewish and refers to herself as having been a part of many different religions. She explained the significance of religion to her identity but ultimately focused more on the importance of her parents’ experiences and sacrifices, as outlined in Prague Winter, which she says “shows the resilience of the human spirit.” Beyond that, she spoke about the future of NATO and the importance of putting trust in international associations to help solve global problems. In a question and answer session, she shared stories about Kim Jong Il (they’re the same height, which she learned while they were both wearing high-heeled shoes) and shared insight on many pressing global issues, such as foreign policy in Cuba. LIFE members jumped at the opportunity to join Ms. Dorer-Fitzpatrick at this remarkable chance to hear such a powerful woman speak in Chicago. Approximately twelve spots were open for members, and I was fortunate enough to be a part of this group. I personally thought it was an enlightening experience, and so did many other attendees. As junior Megan Foler puts it, “It was amazing to hear such an inspiring person speak bout her life, past, and work – in person. To hear her and her parents’ survival story was particularly inspiring – despite all odds, she became one of the most powerful women in the world.” Sophomore Tyler Hagedorn agrees, noting that she “made going into politics seem like a lot of fun. [He] also got a kick out of her stories about angering [Russian President] Putin.” But Madeleine Albright would not have been in town had it not been for the controversial NATO conference. The conference is expected to heavily impact our day-to-day lives. Beyond the relocation of prom this year, students will also have a hard time getting to school. Metra restrictions will make train travel with a backpack impossible, and the expressways can be shut down intermittently at the arrival of diplomats. While this conference will boost Chicago’s economy, it clearly comes at a price. As Mr. Graf said in gathering last week, Latin is aware of the challenges that NATO brings. Hopefully, Albright’s amazing interview has softened the blow for some students, and the conference also will give us a heightened political awareness in the coming weeks. To see Secretary Albright’s full interview:  ]]>