Palo Alto — 24 May 2007
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Palo Alto, California
May 24, 2007
All right. Who wants to ask the first question? And tell me your name.
Hi, my name is Rayonna Adams. I'm an eighth grader from Flood. I've been going to CNG for six years and my question is for Minister Downer and you, Secretary Condoleezza Rice. What do you discuss with other countries?
Oh, do you want to start?
What do we discuss with other countries? Well, I think you could sum it up in perhaps three areas. First of all, we talk about security issues. You know, making sure that our people are safe. That is a big issue for us in our discussions. And the second thing is we want our people to be prosperous, to have jobs. So for our country or for America, we want to find ways that our countries can work together and to make more trade and more prosperity for businesses. And thirdly, we discuss a lot of social issues that people are concerned about, like climate change -- both countries. What are we as a world going to do to address these problems, not only what is America going to do or Australia, but what are we all going to do together? They're the sort of things we talk about.
Well, we talk about those things, and when we're with a real good friend and ally like Australia, we talk about how to make the world safer and more prosperous, but also to make it more democratic because Australia and the United States are two great democracies and there's still people in the world who don't have the freedom to say what they think and to worship as they please and to educate their boys and girls. There are some countries in the world where it's still hard to get educated if you're a woman or if you're a girl. So we talk about how to pursue democracy, for us to help people to pursue democracy and prosperity around the world. So those are the kinds of things we talk about.
Did you have a question? Welcome. What's your name.
Hi, my name is Kimmera Wilson. I'm an eighth grader who goes to Flood. I've been going to CNG for one year. My question is for you, Secretary Rice: What obstacles do you face being -- in politics being an African American woman?
Well, I think now by the time you've been in it as long as I have, it doesn't seem any more that there are many obstacles from being African American. I think by now I'm kind of a package. You know, I'm who I am and that happens to be partially African American.
But I think the bigger problems are the ones that you face earlier on when you're trying to decide what to do. I would cite two. One is within you and the other is within others. The obstacle within others is that they will tend to look at you and underestimate you just because you are -- because of the color of your skin. Because in our society, where we're not yet color blind, people look at people and they say, oh, I know what they're like because of the color of their skin. So one of the hardest things is to get people to just look at you for who you are and not just by the color of your skin.
The obstacle in yourself is not to set limitations on what you want to do because you are African American. So when I started out life, I was going to be a concert pianist. I was going to be a great musician. I had studied piano from age three. And then I suddenly realized that I was a pretty good musician, but not that great, and I didn't want to end up playing at Nordstrom, you know, like that Nordstrom -- (laughter).
So I started looking for something else to do, and I fell in love with the study of the Soviet Union and Russia. Now, my parents or teachers or others might have said, "What in the world is a young black girl from Birmingham, Alabama doing studying Russia?" But they didn't. They said, "Oh, that's great. You want to study Russia."
Now, that meant not accepting a limitation on what I wanted to do and what I wanted to be. So don't ever let anybody set expectations for you of what you want to be and what you want to do. Those should be completely up to you in line with your talents and how hard you are prepared to work. You can do anything that you want. And also, what I really love about what you're doing here is don't let yourself be a statistic. You'll hear, oh, in that district or in that school, this percentage of people don't graduate or that percentage of people don't go to college. It doesn't mean you. You have every opportunity to do what you want to do. So thanks, good question.
Hi, my name is Anthony Munroe. I'm an eighth grader and I've been going to CNG for two years. My question is for Foreign Minister Downer. What are some things you think that Australia can learn from the United States and what are some things you think the United States can learn from Australia?
Mmm, that's a good question. (Laughter.) Well, I was thinking about the question you asked as well as the Secretary's answer, and I was thinking, I'll tell you, it's quite a controversial thing to say this, but I was thinking why would you ask that question because, in the end, in Australia we're simply not perfect but we try to judge everybody not on the basis of some statistic, but on the quality of the individual themselves. And what your ethnic group is, what your religion is, where you were born, is not the issue. It's the quality of your character which is the issue.
Now, can we teach that to America or can America teach that to Australia? I don't really know the answer to that. But we have in Australia as a state dogma really, to use a Soviet phrase, a fundamental belief in the equal value of all individuals. And Australia is a very non-hierarchical and egalitarian society. And whether we can teach other countries that, that is a core value for our country. And we have -- just like the United States people, it's a migrant society -- Australia -- with a very, very small indigenous population. So in that sense, very like the United States. And people have migrated to Australia from all over the world, but in a somewhat different historical circumstances -- the Europeans, Africans, Asians and so on. And I think Australia is a good example of a country where people basically get on pretty well together and respect each other regardless of their origins.
And our view is that the world will never work and will never be a happy place until people learn to judge people on the basis of their character and they respect the value of all people, of all individuals. And what we learn from the United States and what can they learn from us, that's something we should learn from each other. I think what we learn from the United States is a bit about entrepreneurship, and I'm very impressed with the amount of investment there is in a lot of education here. And we do those things ourselves. We probably don't do them quite as well as the United States does.
But you could learn from us how to play cricket. (Laughter.)
If you wanted to. (Laughter.)
And we could learn from you, couldn't we, how to play baseball. If we wanted to. (Laughter.) We are the world champions at cricket and you are the world champions at baseball, and that's how it'll always be, I think.
Hi, my name is Saba Teklu. I'm in eighth grade. I'm an eighth grader who's been going to CNG for four years. My question is to you, Ms. Secretary Rice. Hold on. (Laughter.) What are your future plans after you're done serving as Secretary of State?
Well, my future plans are to get back to California as fast as possible. (Applause.) You know, I was a professor at Stanford for -- since 1981 and I really love the Bay area and I came here when I was just really a young person. I mean, it doesn't sound young to you, but I was 25 when I moved to California. I'm a lot older now.
And I love being a teacher and I love doing research and I loved working with my friends to push forward in education by founding this program. So I look forward to doing those kinds of things. I'll probably write a book about American foreign policy over the last several years because we're in a really very tumultuous and difficult period in international politics, but it's also a time when American strategic interests have been changing a lot, and what we are trying to do about foreign policy has been changing a lot.
And so I wanted to step back and have an opportunity to look at that, not so much from, oh, here's what I was doing when I was sitting in the Oval Office with the President, but more from the perspective of a political scientist, how would you explain what's happened to American foreign policy. So those are some of the things that I'll do. I'll come back to be with my friends, a lot of whom are here, like Merv Morris over there and Susan Ford and Larry Tripplet back there, and Clara Rice, who is my stepmother and used to be principal of the school here at East Palo Alto. So it'll be nice to get back to friends, too.
I hope you're still really active in CNG as well.
I will definitely stay active in CNG. I'm really proud of all of you. I'm really proud of you for taking advantage of this program. When we started this program, we really had in mind folks like you who wanted to extend your academic day, to get better skills in math and science and English language and reading, and also the arts. Because there's nothing like a great education. Education is the great equalizer. It doesn't matter where you came from; if just matters where you're going. And I have met a lot of students who were at CNG who are now in high school. I know some who've gone off to college. Some of you have been a part of the program for a long time, some for a shorter period of time.
But when we started this program, that's exactly what we wanted was that you would come and take advantage of it. So thank you for putting in the extra hours. I know you could be doing other things. But it's worth it. It's worth it to spend the time. So thanks. (Applause.)
Released on May 24, 2007
Original document from www.state.gov.
Last update: Tuesday, 23 February 2010 GMT+1100