August 20, 2007
Among those speaking at Monday's Youth Summit and Diversity Dialogue were (l to r) SMU President R. Gerald Turner, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, Ambassador Karen Hughes ('77), and Dean José Bowen of SMU's Meadows School of the Arts.
Dallas (SMU) – Delivering a message of peace and hope, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson ('76) spoke with a select group of middle school students and their parents on Monday at the Youth Summit and Diversity Dialogue at SMU.
Rep, Johnson also invited Karen Hughes ('77), the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs for the U.S. Department of State, and Dr. Mahmoud Eboo, a member of the institutional leadership of the Ismaili community, to discuss the importance of recognizing diversity in the world and learning about other cultures.
“I wanted to be a part of building a world of peace and culture, so I decided to do something,” said Rep. Johnson. “It is important to learn about diversity now and set an example to the world.”
Ambassador Hughes spoke to the group about how they can be a part of the solution. By studying foreign languages and traveling the world, said Hughes, people can become more informed citizens and learn to appreciate, not just tolerate, differences.
"I hope today you'll learn a great deal about respecting differences and diversity," Ambassador Hughes said. "I like to say that our diversity makes us rich, that we ought to celebrate our diversity. I hear the word 'tolerance' a lot, and I'm sure it's a fine word. But to use it sort of implies gritting you're teeth and tolerating it and you know it's not what we want to do. We want to appreciate our richness. You know, this is a melting pot. This is a nation made up of so many nations."
Ambassador Hughes also told the gathering that "I believe women in our world are increasingly the agents of change, the advocates of education and health, and the arbitrators of peace and reconciliation in our own families and communities."
The summit, which represented 45 countries, was brought to campus through collaboration between Rep. Johnson and Dean José Bowen of the SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts.