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Khaled Hosseini

Afghanistan's Tumultuous History

Khaled Hosseini: Like any other first time novelist who writes a novel in the first person, those first books, as you know, tend to be a little more autobiographical than the subsequent ones. It's not a memoir by any stretch of imagination, although I have surprisingly a hard time convincing some of my readers of that. You know, there are some parallels within my life and the life of the boy in The Kite Runner. I grew up in Kabul in the same era, I went to the same school, we both were kind of precocious writers, we both love film, loved those early Westerns of the '60s and '70s. We love poetry and reading and writing from a young age, both me and this character. And both of us left Afghanistan and became political refugees in the U.S., and probably the sections in the book that resemble my life more than any other are the ones in the Bay Area, where Amir and his father are selling the goods at the flea market and socializing with other Afghans who left Afghanistan. I did that with my father. We would go to the flea market to sell some junk, and we just socialized with other Afghans. So there is quite a bit of me in the book. The story line itself, what happens between the boys and the fallout from that, that just -- that is all imagination.
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Khaled Hosseini

Afghanistan's Tumultuous History

I think writers have the ability to kind of get out of their own skin for a while and imagine what it would be like to live in somebody else's skin. And for me, there were periods where I imagined what it would be like to be wearing the burka and to see the world through that grid. Okay, so imagine you are standing on that street corner with five or six kids to feed and that's the life you have. What is your next move, what do you feel, what are you thinking? There is some element of that, and maybe writers have slightly a better ability of doing that than people who aren't writers. I don't know, but once I made that leap that I discussed, it seemed far more natural for me. I had also the benefit of talking to my mom and my wife and consulting them now and then on things, and they were very helpful, they were very helpful. But I met women in Afghanistan and I heard their stories. I mean, you can't walk up to a woman in a burka on a street corner and talk to her. I don't want to give that image, but I spoke to women who work for NGOs, who were taking care of those women who are fully covered and who won't talk to men. You know, and I heard a lot about their lives, about what they go through and the hardships and the challenges and what is the hope. And what I found is, by and large, the things that they want were very modest in scope, basically a roof for their kids and water. And so I always keep honing back on that and to come back to the idea. And these characters, these women Mariam and Laila, were not based on any individuals that I met in Kabul, but rather they are created out of that collective experience of those collective voices that I heard during that trip.
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Ron Howard

Oscar for Best Director

Ron Howard: Initially, when the idea for Apollo 13 came to me, I didn't remember the mission very well. And then, as I looked at the facts, I had a vague recollection of it. I always believed in the space program and the spirit of exploration, but I was not a sort of a space junkie. Initially, I thought, "Wow! This would be a great challenge: to try to recreate for the audience the experience of going into space." And it's a very dramatic story, and that would be interesting. But I was looking at it more as a sort of cinematic exercise, you know, a great learning experience. However, as I began to learn more about the mission, I began to see that it was, in fact, even more dramatic than I realized. And, more importantly, as I began to meet the individuals involved -- not only the astronauts, but also a number of the mission control people who were involved in the rescue -- I began to see that this was really a great story of human triumph. A very emotional story and that you could be very, very truthful. And yet, it was a real opportunity to sort of celebrate what human beings are capable of.
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John Hume

Nobel Prize for Peace

John Hume: When I come home from university, of course, I thought that I had a duty to help those that weren't as lucky as I was. And, the first thing I did was not -- I wasn't getting involved in politics, because the politics of those days was basically flag-waving and I had always felt politics should be about the living standards of people. But, when I come home, I wasn't interested in politics in those days, but I was interested in helping people, and I got involved in the Foundation of the Credit Union movement. And, of all the things I've been doing, it's the thing I'm proudest of because no movement has done more good for the people of Ireland, north and south, than the credit union movement.
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John Hume

Nobel Prize for Peace

John Hume: Before the arrival of the Credit Union, people who were from the poor background or a working class background couldn't borrow from banks. Banks wouldn't have them, and when they needed to borrow money for rearing their children and for furniture, et cetera, for normal things, then the methodology in those days was either from loan sharks or from pawn shops. And, of course, that meant that people were made poorer by all of that, particularly by the charge of loan sharks. So, what the Credit Union movement did, of course, was not only help the ordinary people to have the true value of whatever their income was, but it helped local business, small business, as well, because the money that would have left your city in loan charges remained and were spent. Therefore -- I mean, when we started the Credit Union in those early days, the first few meetings, a few people joined, but very soon it spread rapidly. And today, that Credit Union -- which I was involved in starting in 1960 -- has 22,000 members, and has something over 40 million pounds in savings of the people. And, of course, all over Ireland today, there's 2.2 million members in Credit Union in a population of five million, and I am very proud that I was President of the Credit Union League of Ireland, of the whole of Ireland, when I was 27 years old.
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John Hume

Nobel Prize for Peace

I stood for election and in that election, I sought a mandate to found a new political party based on social democratic philosophy. In other words, that we would deal with real politics, with housing, with jobs, with voting rights, and not into flag-waving politics, because in my belief that was a common ground, and if you work common ground together, that that would end the divisions in our society. First of all, if you had equality of treatment and then you started working in matters that affect all sections of the community, but of course, given the nature of our politics, it was very difficult to break down those barriers because the governing body insisted in standing by the old-style approach, and it has been a hard, long road.
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John Hume

Nobel Prize for Peace

That there was two mentalities and both mentalities had to change. There was what I called the Afrikaner mind set of the Unionist politicians, which was holding all power in their own hands, and discriminating, and their objective was to protect their identity. We agreed that they had every right to protect their identity, but that their methodology should change because when you have widespread discrimination against a community, as we had in Northern Ireland, in the end, it's bound to lead to conflict. And, our challenge to the change of the Unionist mind set was that -- given their objective of protecting their identity, which we have no quarrel with -- that given their geography and their numbers, the problem couldn't be solved without them. Therefore, they should come to the table and reach an agreement that would protect their identity. Then in my own community, of course, what is called the Nationalist community, there was a mind set -- not a majority mind set, but one that, Ireland is -- based on violence, and of course, that mind set I described as a territorial mind set: "Ireland is our land and you Unionists, Protestants, are a minority. Therefore, you can't stop us uniting." Our challenge to that mind set, my challenge to that mind set, was that it is people that have rights, not territory. Without people, even Ireland is only a jungle, and when people are divided, victories are not solutions.
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