In an installment of Northeastern University’s series, The Civic Experience, Samantha Power was invited recently where she talked to an audience of more than 700. Power is a former US ambassador to the United Nations. She said she had little interest in politics, and was considering a career in sports journalism. The Tiananmen Square protests changed all of that. One of the most pivotal moments of her career was during a baseball game between the Atlanta Braves and the San Francisco Giants. In the summer of 1989, Power had just wrapped up her first year at Yale, when she suddenly found herself engrossed in another screen depicting tanks rolling into Tiananmen Square while taking notes on the game.
Power also shared anecdotes from her childhood in her native Ireland and her memoir, The Education of an Idealist. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 2003 for her book, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, and is also the author of Chasing the Flame: Sergio Vieira de Mello and the Fight to Save the World. She went on to discuss the trajectory of a career that started as a correspondent covering the wars in the former Yugoslavia, and culminated in her securing a coveted position as a senior adviser in President Barack Obama’s cabinet from 2013 to 2017. Power describes it as a “Dream job”.
“It was an abnormal period, but it was such a blessing”, she says.
Power currently teaches at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and the Harvard Law School. She said that she’d welcome another chance at public service. However, she did side-step questions about running for Senate or putting her hat in the ring for an appointment as secretary of state.
“When one thinks about the general election, everyone I know, their sole focus is not on themselves, but on the country and trying to get us back on course,” she said.
Shahjadi Jemim Rahman