Reflections on my Keynote Address at the Annual PRI Dinner

This past week, I was deeply honored to be invited to represent Public Radio International (PRI) as the keynote speaker at their Annual Fundraising Dinner in Boston. Below, is an excerpt from the address I gave…

“When I talk about my work, I usually start by talking to the audience about how we’re a country of immigrants, and our diversity is our greatest strength. I talk about why I believe migrant and refugee rights are human rights, about how we are all humans regardless of our race or place of birth, and why we, as global citizens, have certain global responsibilities. Or in the case of my most recent long-read for PRI, I talk about why no child should be beaten back from borders or dropped in the desert to die alone.

The glimpse into an unseen side of the global migrant and refugee crisis that I hope to give you through my work shows us that relative to the world, we remain among the most fortunate few. We have enormous freedoms, and with those freedoms come responsibilities.

As an anthropologist, a writer, and a filmmaker, I always seek out the human stories. I think it is easy to forget that in those 65 million who are displaced – that’s 1 in every 112 people on the planet – there is one boy. They call him Bambino because he’s so scrawny for his age. At 14 years old, he’s traveled nearly 3,000 miles to Morocco on his own. He lost his parents at the age of 12 and had younger siblings to take care of. But his country offered him no way to do that and so he traveled north – and he kept traveling north until he finally reached the last border to Europe.

My hope is that once you come to know the story of one boy in the masses, it will become a little more difficult for you to turn away.

I am so grateful to PRI for providing the space for this kind of reporting to be done – the kind of in-depth reporting that requires that human relationships be built so that human stories can be told. Thank you for giving me the chance to tell the untold stories and for inviting me hear tonight to share my work with this esteemed audience.”