Saturday, September 24, 2011

Meeting the President of Guinea during UN General Assembly Week in NY

Suzanne and I get to meet Alpha Conde, the President of Guinea
Lots of you know that my favorite NY event of the year is the UN General Assembly. 193 world leaders came to town this year and I did my annual session of stalking. This year I did really well!

Somehow I befriended some Guinean's in the Waldorf lobby and told them I'd love to meet their new President. An hour later I managed to join a crowd of 25 prominent Guinean's from DC, Boston and NY up in the country's suite and was part of a surreal time mixed with referential treatment, lots of Islamic prayers and genuine love of their country all in a language I didn't speak. And mixed in all that was real pleasure that my friend and I cared about their country.

How did it happen, you ask? While sitting in the lobby of the Waldorf suddenly I was surrounded with the most beautifully dressed West Africans. I just had to ask where they were from. They said Guinea, a country I had just learned about from my cab driver over the weekend. My cab driver had told me the story of their new wonderful president, Alpha Conde, that he loved and he wanted me to love too. He has even cried and thanked me for knowing about different countries in Africa, when so few of his riders do so all week I had been thinking about his passion and so it seemed more than a coincidence that this was happening.

At some point Suzanne and I were about to give up because it didn't seem like he was ever going to come to the lobby, so we asked one more time and our new friend asked if we would like to go up to his room to meet him. I said "YES!" and before we knew it we were being whisked into a room with 25 Guinean men for a session with the president. The importance and awe was amazing. The people in the room made sure we got a photo with the president and all seemed very happy that we cared that we were so pleased to be there.

Alpha Condé has been President of Guinea since December 2010. He was elected in the 2010 presidential elections, which was widely considered the first truly credible election in Guinea's history.

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