It’s not always easy to inspire me. Compared to the lives of so many, mine is a life of comfort, and a little shaking prompts one to open the eyes and not only notice the world around but have an opinion about it and have the desire to change it. It’s not that Janine di Giovanni was telling us something we had never heard before when she spoke earlier tonight at the Walker Art Museum in Minneapolis. As a foreign correspondet who has spent her career documenting and reporting on human rights abuses around the world, she spoke of her experiences in warzones and disaster areas from Sierra Leone to Bosnia, about the real suffering experienced by human beings that are outside the conscioussness of so many Americans.
The way she talked about these things, however, without pretense, her passion for her chosen career obvious, made watching and listening to her a special experience. Her brightest moments were when she fielded questions from the audience. Often her responses were more eloquant and focused than the speech she had prepared, incredibly intelligent,j creative, and spontaneous. And some of them were even unexpected.
When she answered my questions, she spoke straight from her experience and passion. Her message was to the whole audience, but I felt she was talking to me, personalizing her message. She put herself in the role of a mentor, that same experience and passion working to give direction, advice, inspiration to me and the audience. What she said was important, and should be heard by an entire generation.
Ms. Giovanni spoke on November 27, at the Walker Museum in Minneapolis, as part of a speaker series “Drawing Conflict, Writing War.”