From the discussions with students before the event, and from the questions they asked Jeff, I could tell that the students were most impressed by fact that Jeff had scored a perfect GPA in Kingsborough Community College in New York, and had gone on to join NYU. Besides marveling at Jeff’s scores and his Ivy League experience, the students’ engagement was also dominated by the persistent question, albeit rephrased differently, on how they can get jobs in the media once they were done with school.
As a teacher who constantly invites guests to come speak to students so as to expand the students’ world view beyond examinations, I must admit that I was a little disappointed. I would have preferred that the students not focus on scores and instead discuss with Jeff what his book reveals about journalism, international politics (especially in Africa) and on education, and reflect on what they could learn from Jeff’s experience as world-class journalist. I wanted them to see that a broad-based education, exposure to international history and culture, and good writing skills (of course) open up a person to dialogue with the world.