Julia Bolz is a women’s rights activist providing social guidance to countries in the Middle East, Africa, Central America, and Central Asia. She founded the Journey with an Afghan School program after 9/11 to help bridge the cultural divide between the U.S. and Afghanistan particularly by increasing the educational opportunities afforded to young women. Before joining the grassroots movement for gender equality, she worked at one of Seattle’s most prestigious law firms, Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland. She received Seattle’s Tom C. Wales Citizenship Award for her combined humanitarian efforts. Bolz graduated from Smith College.
Topic: America’s Place in the World
Julia Bolz: From the U.S. standpoint, I feel that people are very self-focused here. We tend not to know what’s going on on the other side of the world. In fact we’re very happy living in our little bubble of sorts. And in most community newspapers, you rarely find any information about what’s happening internationally.
And so to me, there is a comfort level that has been created in the United States that is a false comfort level that we can live in isolation. We can make decisions that are one-sided and we think it will not affect anyone else. And so to me, that’s one of the biggest challenges. It’s going to be opening up the people in the United States so that we understand that we are part of a larger community, and we have got to figure out ways to work together, to empower each other, and to respect each other. And one of the things we had been talking about is we had been focusing for so many years on fighting terrorism through the military, the CIA, Homeland Security. What if they flipped this question around and said, “Instead of how many enemies can we make, how many friends can we make?”
July 4, 2007