Resilience Toolkit

NY Times columnist: Find your passion

By Linda Coutant

Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof encouraged Appalachian State University students wanting to make a difference in the world to find an issue they’re passionate about and “add a few drops” to that bucket.

“Take it from me, drops in the bucket — that’s how we can fill the bucket together,” said Kristof, who has reported on world events and the people affected by them in more than 150 countries.

“Find some bucket you care about and add a few drops to it, and that can be transformative to the people that you help.”

Known for bringing attention to human rights issues, Kristof spoke on campus in spring 2018 as part of the University Forum Lecture Series. In a speech titled “Why Students Should Care About the World & Change It,” the journalist shared stories from his career covering world affairs, including sex trafficking and access to education.

The world needs to develop a greater collective responsibility and demonstrate stronger empathy toward others, Kristof said.

Young people can build a bridge across what he called “the empathy gap” — through education, study abroad and other opportunities to observe another culture.

People wanting to make a difference often ask him, he said, whether they should focus on issues abroad or at home.

“My answer is, it’s always a mistake to pit them against each other. We can do both. We can, here and there, make extraordinary differences in people’s lives,” he said.

“I encourage you to find what speaks to you.”

About the University Forum Lecture Series

The University Forum Lecture Series brings nationally prominent speakers to campus. Their views enliven campus dialogue on a variety of issues. Past speakers have included activist Gloria Steinem, conservationist Terry Tempest Williams, presidential historian Harold Holzer, CNN correspondent Peter Bergen and award-winning science journalist Carl Zimmer. Learn more at

About Appalachian State University

As the premier, public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.