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Rita Dove

Former Poet Laureate of the United States

Going to the library was the one place we got to go without asking really for permission. And what was wonderful about that was the fact that they let us choose what we wanted to read for extra reading material. So it was a feeling of having a book be mine entirely, not because someone assigned it to me, but because I chose to read it. There was an anthology up there. One anthology of poetry. It was a purple with gold cover, I'll never forget. It's really thick. It went from Roman times all the way up to the 1950's at that point. And I began to browse. I mean, I really was like browsing. I read in it a little bit. If I liked a poem by one person, I would read the rest of them by that person. I was about eleven or twelve at this point. I had no idea who these people were. I had heard of Shakespeare, sure, but I didn't know the relative value of Shakespeare, of Emily Dickinson, or all these people that I was reading. So I really began to read what I wanted to read, and without anyone telling me that this was too hard. You know, "You're only eleven, how can you possibly understand Sara Teasdale, or something like that?" And that's how my love affair, I think, with poetry began. This was entirely my world and I felt as if they were whispering directly to me.
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Sylvia Earle

Undersea Explorer

I grew up more or less fearless with respect to all sorts of things -- spiders, squirrels, birds, mammals -- because of the gentleness that both my father and my mother and my family in general expressed toward our fellow citizens on the planet. That empathy for living things became naturally expanded as I grew up into a study of living things. I became a biologist just following my heart, I suppose. I couldn't imagine wanting to do anything else.
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Sylvia Earle

Undersea Explorer

Early on, there was an opportunity, because of the neighboring woods, to explore quite a lot on my own, and I did. I would just spend a lot of time out in the nearby woods, and feel such sympathy, such I feel so sorry for those who don't have an opportunity in their early years to go out on their own. Sometimes with others, but really by yourself, to go out and just see what's going on. Find out what's under that bush, or what is around the other side of that tree. And not feel afraid. Quite the contrary. I almost can't stand not knowing.
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Mohamed ElBaradei

Nobel Prize for Peace

I was in Ghana, and I saw that we provided a radiotherapy machine to treat people with cancer in Ghana. It was the only radiotherapy machine in Ghana, and people from four different neighboring countries came to be treated with this machine. You have no idea the sense of achievement. You know, here is something, while not earth-shattering, but here is something at least where my organization and I could make a difference in helping people to survive.
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