Really, not much to report from the last day of the conference. Saturday was workshops (rather than presentations) and the one for which I was taking notes was a further discussion of how to measure the right to health, and more specifically, how to go about developing and using indicators for the right to health (and other human rights). I met tons of people whom I admire, and made one excellent contact with another statistician who is far more plugged into the stats side of the human rights world than I am, so she helped me out by supplying the names and contact info of about four others in the field whom she says I should definitely talk to and info for the human rights working group within the American Statistical Association.
I stopped by Dabney's office this afternoon and she said she thinks the main thing that's going to come out of this conference is a set of research goals, i.e. identifying areas where there are definite gaps in data collected, which result in our inability to say whether or not a rights based approach is working or how to implement a rights based approach. If we could help set the research agenda for human rights issues...well, that would be huge.
Also, we made the news
! Well, sort of. Carter's speech at our conference made the news. And he really pissed off Rush
. (I am so glad that I don't subject myself to this sort of stuff on a daily basis. I knew Rush was crazy, but I had no idea just how foaming-at-the-mouth he is at any given moment) Here's my favorite part (with a link to the speech itself if you want to give a listen): "Jimmy Carter (Watch the Malaise Speech) is one of the most embittered, ungrateful, got-to-be angry people in the world and I don't know why." Obviously, given how much my little heart goes pitter pat whenever I listen to Carter, I have a biased opinion here. But I just think that of all the possible criticisms to level at Carter, this has to be the most absurd. Embittered? Got-to-be angry? Did he listen to the speech? First, we're talking about an 80 year old man here, so it's sort of hard to imagine him being quite as vitriolic as Rush tries to paint him. And second, this is the man who was made fun of for saying "I have lusted in my heart." He's about as mild as they come. Yes, of course, he's angry about the state of things. But he's the sort who just quietly goes about trying to change things. Anyway, as Dabney said, if Rush is bothering to complain about us, I guess we're doing good work!
Also, tonight I got to listen to Paul
Rusesabagina tell his account of the story behind "Hotel Rwanda." Amazing. I'm so full from the number of inspirational talks I've gotten to hear over the past six days my brain is on overload.
Then, on the way home, while quietly discussing Rwanda and other international crises, I asked a friend about his work with the Red Cross in Sri Lanka, immediately following the tsunami. Turns out they were working in a section of the country to the north, completely controlled by rebels, so many people wouldn't go there, and for the first week or so they were practically on their own. Doing everything from cleaning up debris and distributing supplies to clearing out the bodies. He said this so matter of factly. Recovering bodies was just something he had to do, because it was work that had to be done.
As inspiring as the events of the past week have been, I'm also beginning to feel that I may never do enough to really feel like my presence here has mattered.
At least some people have more faith in me. Continuing the list of best compliments ever, I was telling Travers my story about meeting Paul Hunt and how it was hard to even remain standing I was so in awe, and without even hesitating he casually said, one day students will feel that way meeting you.
At least my paycheck and local tax refund arrived today, so even if I'm sitting comfortably at my desk in Atlanta, I can send some dollars to places where they can be better spent.