Vaira Vike-Freiberga delivers inspiring speech focusing on the dangers of a changing society to Arizona State University students

Vaira Vike-Freiberga, the current president of World Leadership Alliance – Club de Madrid (WLA – CdM), delivered an inspiring speech to young students from the Arizona State University, as a first scholar-in-residence under Barrett, The Honors College Distinguished Global Leader Program.

In an all-encompassing lecture, Vike-Freiberga offered practical advice and encouraged young millennials to get involved in politics and societal affairs through a domestic or global lens. Her extensive experience as former President of the Republic of Latvia (1999–2007) and as President of WLA – CdM allowed Ms Vike-Freiberga to touch upon a wide range of relevant topics, including world affairs, leadership, the women’s movement, refugees and politics.

“The decisions you make in life now will affect you all of your life. At the end of your life, hopefully you will have constructed a beautiful and worthwhile life of service to others”, said Ms Vike-Freiberga in front of an audience of around 300 students, staff and community members.

Vike-Freiberga’s speech marks the start of a monthly scholar-in-residence position at Barrett full of events, panel discussion, where she will further engage with students and better convey the advice delivered in her initial speech. Like the call she made for young people to embrace change without fear and strive to find their purpose and their place in society.

“We have to adjust to change. We can’t stay the same. Ask yourself, where do I fit in? Where does my country fit in?” adding that, “without a sense of contribution, without a sense of purpose we can’t have influence on the wheels of fate and fortune.”

Worrying signs of our times, such as a general feeling of uncertainty towards the future and the rise of populism, were an integral part of Vike Freiberga’s speech.

“Beware of political leaders who make unreasonable promises. Leaders will promise their followers the moon, but won’t give them what’s on the earth. Look for leaders who are practical and grounded in reality,” she said.

Vaira-Vike Freiberga’s agenda at the Barrett, The Honors College will include a panel discussion on Baltic, Balkan and Central European perspectives on Russian foreign policy and a Coffee & Conversation event with students.