‘Learning Humbleness from Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai’: Memorable Meetings -2

With Wangari Maathai in the event

With Wangari Maathai in the event

‘Humbleness’ is one of the qualities, I always admire in other people. It is difficult to find in many people, especially when they are successful and riding with the success wave. Do not get me wrong and assume that I am against the success or successful people. I am just sharing my personal opinion. Being ‘Down to Earth’, while talking to everyone is a kind of art, not everyone posses.
As I have said in my previous post, that I have met many diversified set of people(noble laureates, country ministers, normal people, parliament members, executives, social workers, language exchange partners etc) from different parts of the world in past few years. There is one such memorable meeting, I like to share with you on understanding of ‘humbleness’.
It was 2011, when I was pursuing my master studies in Chemical Engineering at Technical University of Denmark. I got opportunity to attend a lecture going to be delivered by Nobel Peace Prize Winner Wangari Mathai, at the University of Copenhagen.
The lecture went very well. She has talked about her journey and her current efforts in building peace & sustainability in Africa. She talked about the green movement, where communities were empowered to provide solutions to various social problems. There are many challenges faced in Africa and she has emphasized needs for implementation rather then continue developing many methods and tools. The biggest problem in her view is that people are too afraid to think out of box and finally acting on it.
You can probably read a short summary of the event here: https://ankitkhandelwal.in/2011/07/06/lecture-by-nobel-laureate-wangari-mathai/
Well, bored? Sorry, but I am not writing this post to tell about the lecture or the importance of issues raised. You will find out in a moment, why!
After the lecture, it was an opportunity for each of us to have a chat with her individually, when refreshments were being served to the participants. I was one of the last person standing in the queue. When got chance, I described about my current education(in 2011), my interest and thanked her for the wonderful lecture. I also told her that I am from India and some of the solutions she talked about will be applicable not just to India but also to many other developing nations.
She listened to me carefully and then just put her hand on my head. I felt very honored and felt like my grandmother is giving me blessings. She said, ‘Youngsters like you are our hope for the future. I am sure, youngsters like you will work towards changing the world and make societies better. Whenever I talk to the youngsters, it gives me a hope that problems like poverty will be a past’. She signed my notebook and said few more things which I cannot recall now. But in all those 3- 4 minutes, her hand was on my head and it was like a blessing. She has spoken things in vary simple, plane language. Her message was also very clear.
Those 4 minutes inspired me a lot to work towards being down to earth. It was like a message that ‘feel proud of the achievements but do not use them to show someone small’. It is like giving equal treatment and respect to everyone you meet and come around. I do not have words to express those 4 minutes and the feeling afterwards. Because they were coming from Noble Laureate, a kind of highest achievement any individual can have on our planet. When you find a person talking to you just like a normal person with hope, empathy, care and do not even showing any sign of the achievements, it is hard to notice.
I am sure, you too have met such people in your life who have inspired you to remain committed to work, celebrate it but do not use it to make others feel small. Please share here, if you have experienced any such memorable moments.


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