While dining with warlords or speaking to a wounded rebel may not sound appealing to all, Nicholas D. Kristof ’82, a columnist at the New York Times, goes to great lengths to uncover the individual stories behind the news. When a group of thirty Harvard students visited Kristof in New York City on a trip hosted by Lowell House this past Monday, the discussion was comprised of anecdotes, both humorous and alarming.
As the group leaned forward eagerly in their seats, raising their hands to be called on in the pseudo-conversation, Kristof casually reclined in his chair at the head of the room. Smiling, he spoke of one particularly terrifying instance, recalling, “Once, we had a truck of soldiers chasing us down a road in the jungle for an entire week until we reached Uganda. Then, to top it all off, I got malaria.”
Kristof’s anecdotes continued as he retold conflicts with governments in a humorous tone. He has been detained more than once and barred from North Korea for life. “Though it must not have been for my life,” Kristof joked, “because a little while later they let me back in.”
He spoke to his interviewees in a nonchalant manner, as though the people and the experiences were common dinner conversation. “The Taliban has kind of screwed up their press relations by kidnapping reporters, now interviews are done over the phone,” noted Kristof. “Actually, I set up the interview with that warlord by emailing his press-handler.”