|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Remarks and Question and Answer Session at Hillsboro Elementary School
Purcellville, Virginia, September 1, 2000
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: (Inaudible) -- to be with you all this morning. I am very, very excited about it. And what I thought I would do is tell you a little bit about what I do and then answer your questions because I think that is the best way to learn.
It is my job to represent the United States all around the world and tell them about what a wonderful country we have and how much we want to be involved in helping other countries. And so I think that your mural here is very interesting. I mean -- (inaudible) -- panda to America about China, and they love their pandas. And one of the things Iíve been trying to do -- you know the panda died at the Washington Zoo? Well, weíve been trying to get them to lend us another panda, so Iíve been talking about that to the Chinese. So one of the things I do is talk about the things that we would like for this country, and then what we can do to help them.
And I travel a lot, and Iím very glad to see your globe because, in the last month. I have been all around the world. All around the world. And there are now about 190 countries in the world. A lot of them are little islands so I havenít been to all of those, but I have been to 116 countries. Iíve been to most of the countries in the world. Many, many.
Now let me tell you what I just did so we can see this. Here is the United States, and so in the last month I have done the following things. Here is Washington, and I went to -- I first went to Thailand, which is here, I went to Bangkok, and then I actually did something pretty silly. I had to go backwards, so I went to Japan. And then I decided I had to see the Pope in Rome, so I went all the way here. And then I said to people, "On my way home from Tokyo," which is over there, "I stopped in Rome." They thought I was crazy because -- (inaudible) -- gone the other way around the world. And then I came home.
And then I went -- last week I went to Latin America. And I went to Brazil, and I went to Chile and Argentina and Bolivia and Ecuador. Then I came home, and then Wednesday I went for the day to Colombia and I came back. And now Iím here with you, and Iíve done all that in one month.
Now, most times what happens is you see your globe in your home rooms and wherever you are, and the United States. See? And the truth is that when you turn the globe around, most of the countries are on the other side. And we have to remember that even though we have two big oceans on both sides of us, that we have to care about the people on the other side of the globe, which is where most of the people live.
But the truth is that when you look at it, you kind of think, well, this is just us. And in most classrooms you see it just us, but you have to remember about the people on the other side of the globe. So I talk to all those people all day long.
Now, as Ms. Smith said, I am the first girl to be Secretary of State. (Applause.) And that has changed things a lot because, for the most part, people arenít used to that. But itís very good for the girls and itís very good for the boys. I can tell you that. (Laughter.)
Now, what I do all day long is Iím kind of on the telephone talking to people. This morning I got up and, because the President has made an important decision about our defense, I have been calling Members of Congress, and I just finished talking to the man who had the same job I have in England to tell him about it.
So thatís what is important. Now, the important part here today is that -- and you all have learned this -- is that there are people that live all over the place that have different things that they like to do, and just because we are behind two big oceans doesn't mean that we donít have to care about them. And we are all one world. You have all learned that. And children everywhere are all the same.
And wherever I go, I try to meet with little children because they are the ones that can tell you the best about what is going on in their country. And then some children, as you know from studying, who have a terrible time, a terrible time. They donít have schools to go to. They might be sick. They might not have both parents. They donít have a chance to learn. Because you all are the ones that are going to take everything over. As Ms. Smith said, I came here a long time ago, in the last century, in the middle of the last century. And you are the next century. And so what you know and think about about the other countries is very important.
And the best part about the United States -- I have to tell you, the best part, as I look around here, and Ms. Smith said I didnít come from here, and I think some of you may have not been born here or your parents were not born here, and we all live together in America. And it doesn't happen anywhere else because, in a lot other countries, people who donít look the same fight with each other. And that isnít true in the United States.
So the thing that I love most of all, most of all, is going out and saying, "I am Secretary of State of the United States of America, the best country in the world, and we want to help the other countries so that we can all live happily in our one world together."
So Iím happy to answer any questions, anything you want. I have five grandchildren who are approximately this age, and so I will be happy to talk to you.
All right, this little girl with the red hair.
QUESTION: Do you like your job?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I love my job. I love it. And, you know, because I get up every morning about 5 oíclock and I usually work until about midnight because, if you look at the world, the time zones are all different. So if you want to talk to somebody in the middle of the other side of the globe, you have to get up real early or stay up real late. But I love every minute, every minute.
QUESTION: What problems are hard to do?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, the problems that are hard is that there are people that are doing awful things to each other. And one terrible problem that is not very nice to talk about early in the morning, but when I was in a country called Sierra Leone, which is here in Africa, this little country, there are people there that are doing horrible things. They are chopping off each otherís hands and arms, and little children your age. And so what we are trying to do is to make them stop doing that. And that is a terrible thing. So that is very, very hard is to try to persuade people not to fight. Thatís the hardest thing of all, the hardest.
QUESTION: Mrs. Albright, do you see the President on a daily basis?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I do. I do. I see him every day, or I talk to him, unless heís traveling. Sometime we travel together. But Iím not going to see him today because Iím here and heís in Washington. So I was with him all day in Colombia, and I do see him because we talk about all the decisions that have to be made.
Thatís one of the great parts of the job. When you asked me if I love my job, being with the President of the United States every day, in the White House, in the Oval Office -- youíve all seen pictures of that -- and the Cabinet Room. And, you know, I have -- I donít know if you have ever seen pictures of the Cabinet Room. Thereís a big table with chairs all around it, and every Cabinet member has his or her own chair, and there is a little plaque on the back of it. And because before I had this job I was our Ambassador to the United Nations, so thatís also a Cabinet job so I have two little plaques. And when I leave, I get to take the chair with me. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, this one of the lucky parts. Because I have to travel with a lot of people and I have to travel with people that have ear -- (inaudible) -- you know, things in their ears, security people and some of them are in back -- (inaudible) -- other ear, I have to go on my airplane. And so one of the reasons I can do all this very quickly is that I have my own airplane. And so that is part of having the job. So you donít go and buy tickets and do all that, but I get to travel with all these people and they help me.
And, you know, our airplane is like an office. They have telephones and we have computers and copying machines, and we work on the airplane the whole time. We do things that you canít do on a commercial flight. We walk up and down. They give us food when we want it and we watch movies, but most of the time we work. And I sleep on the plane. I have to sleep on the plane because otherwise I couldn't travel around the world all the time.
QUESTION: Have you ever been to North Carolina?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I have been to North Carolina. I have. (Laughter.) And do you know what I did this morning? Just about 20 minutes ago I talked to the Senator from North Carolina, Jesse Helms, who is the chairman of the committee that I work with in Congress. And Iím going to tell him when I call him back that I got a question about North Carolina. Are you from North Carolina? No? You just like North Carolina? You just wanted to know. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: I drived to North Carolina.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: You did?
QUESTION: We always take a ride to North Carolina.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: But, you see, some of the places I go, you canít drive because of the oceans. So you have to sometimes fly.
QUESTION: You can sail.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Okay, how about there?
QUESTION: Or sail.
QUESTION: Do you like traveling?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I love traveling. I really do. Otherwise, this would be a terrible job. (Laughter.) But I do love traveling, and I love meeting different people, different kinds of people, and telling them about America, and then having them tell me.
QUESTION: Whatís the number of -- (inaudible)?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: That what?
QUESTION: The number of countries
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I tried to count them the other day. Itís about 116 countries. And I went to about 30 countries before I got this job, but I love adding new countries. And the last new country I added was Ecuador. I hadnít been there until last week. But there are less and less countries for me to add because Iíve been to a lot of them. And some of the countries, as I said, I donít think Iíll ever get to because they are here. There are lots of little islands in the Pacific that are countries that are hard to get to and sometimes we donít have business with them, so I probably wonít go.
QUESTION: How did you -- (inaudible) -- the Secretary -- (inaudible) --
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, I didnít think it would happen because I didnít think they would ever make a girl Secretary of State. There had never been one. And I think there are lots of reasons I love President Clinton, but the fact that he made that big decision made all the difference. So I was surprised.
And then I went and I was -- you know, youíve seen pictures where you have to swear on a bible that youíre going to uphold the law. So I did that and my kids were around. I have three daughters and, at that stage, I had no grandchildren at that time. No, I had one grandson at that stage. And so he was there.
But I was very, very excited and a little scared, because itís a very big job representing the United States. But very excited and honored, really honored. And as I said, I love every single day at the office.
QUESTION: How much money do you make?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: How much money do I make? (Laughter.) Well, I make quite a bit, actually -- a lot, actually. But I make money -- what every Cabinet member makes, but I donít have time to spend it.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: What?
QUESTION: Iíve been on a private plane and they have TVs and -- (inaudible) --
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: They do. They have a lot of things. Do you know what Iíve gotten to do? I have gotten to sit up front with the pilot, and then I have gotten to do something truly, truly amazing. Sometimes when the flights are very, very long and we need to go somewhere quickly, you have to get refueled in the air. Can you imagine that? Itís like going to a gas station in the air. Have you seen that? And I sat with the pilot, and there was another airplane that came in that had all the gasoline in it, and our plane, and weíre up, way up, 30,000 feet in the air. And all of a sudden, this hose comes down and then it attaches to the airplane that youíre in right by the pilot, and then for half an hour we fly attached to the other airplane until it refuels. All up in the air. It is really the most amazing thing in the world.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: What?
QUESTION: Have you been to Spain?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I have been to Spain. Have you been to Spain? Well, let me ask this question: Who in this room has been to another country? Very good. So, letís see, what countries have you been to? Youíve been to Spain. Yell out the country youíve been to.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Canada.
(Chorus of voices.)
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think -- (inaudible) -- forget it. (Laughter.) Okay, I have been to Spain and itís beautiful, isnít it?
All right, over here.
QUESTION: Do you like your job?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I do. I really do. Itís great.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Yes.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- why does -- (inaudible) -- by someone every day? (Laughter.)
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I have to tell you a funny story. I have a farm out here on Route 671 and I love to walk. The first year that I had this job, I was out walking on the road, and Iím walking along and I kind of forget that the people are behind me and following me. And all of a sudden, this nice guy in a truck pulled up and he said, "Hey, lady. Do you know somebody is following you?" (Laughter.)
So, I tell you, itís a little strange except for the fact that the people are so nice. And I know that theyíre there to protect me, because some of the things I do the people donít -- in the other countries donít like. So, for instance, the people that are chopping off the arms of the children in Sierra Leone donít like me because I have told them that what they are doing is wrong. And a man in Serbia -- whose name is Mr. Milosevic -- who has done terrible things to people he doesn't like, so he doesn't like me.
And so I need to be protected and so they are there to protect me. But they are very nice and they are just like family now. So Iíve gotten used to it. But the other people think itís a little weird, especially when Iím walking on Route 671. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Mrs. Albright -- (inaudible)?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, the best thing is definitely representing the US, as I said, because it makes you very proud. And the best thing is when you can make something happen, when you can make a war stop or make people not suffer. So thatís the best thing.
The worst thing is not being able to stop suffering. So when you know that people are killing each other and no matter how powerful the United States is, we canít stop it, or when -- I think the worst thing was one morning -- I donít know if you remember this -- it was a couple of years ago in Africa, in Kenya and in Tanzania. Some terrible people blew up our embassies and a lot of people died.
And I got a call saying that these embassies -- our embassies are places that Americans work with some of the people that are in the country too to try to help that country. So theyíre there to help and to represent us. And all of a sudden some terrible person or people blew up these buildings. And they are like my family, the people who work for me, and so that I think was the worst. And then the worst after that was bringing home the bodies of the people. That was very hard. So when anybody dies, thatís the worst part about the job.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: That Iím scared about? Yes, actually. And thatís where -- (inaudible) -- people follow me. There is a country that had been really -- had a lot of terrible things happen and people blow up and a long time ago there were also some of our Marines were blown up there in Lebanon. So I think in Lebanon was one of the countries. Do you know where Lebanon is? I should always put my glasses on here. Right here. Right in here. And it was very scary.
But I have been in scary places, but the truth is that Iím not really scared because these nice people are with me all the time. And youíve seen -- I think there are some specials about the kind of things they do. They have a lot of things to do that protect me. Okay?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Good morning.
QUESTION: How do you handle the paperwork you have at work?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I have so much paperwork you would not believe it. Itís stacking up and stacking up. And what I do is I spend a lot of time reading. A lot. And I tell people to write short notes, not long ones. And I read and I read and I read, and I check something off and make a decision. And then there are lots of people who help me. I donít do my job by myself. There are hundreds and hundreds of people who help me. So thatís how I handle the paperwork.
But even though Iíve taken today off -- this is my day off, but I have a lot of paperwork back at my farm and Iím going to sit and read all day. But itís so interesting and itís all fascinating things to read about. So thatís how I handle it.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I said because I have a chance to really think about all the things that the United States needs to do, and I try to help people. Thatís why I like it.
QUESTION: How do you relax with all of the travel?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, thatís a good question. Do you know what I do? I sometimes go to take walks. I said something that wasnít true. I said I donít spend my money. I do. I shop. I relax that way. And the way I really, really relax is, when I have a chance, I come out here in the country which is beautiful, and I play with my grandchildren. Thatís relaxation. Thatís what I love to do.
QUESTION: What are their names?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: My grandchildren? Well, I have one grandson whose name is David, and another one who is Daniel, and then I have one whose name is Jack. And then I have one whose name is Benjamin and we have a little girl and she is named after me. Her name is Madeleine, so we call her Maddy.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I donít. I donít. But the people who protect me do.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: When I go to public places, what I like best of all, best of all, is when people come up to me and say, "Hi, Madeleine," because, you know, Secretary is so formal. And they say, "Hi, Madeleine, can I have your autograph?" Or, "Youíre doing a good job." And they say, "Iím sorry to disturb you, but I would like to tell you that I like you." Anybody who wants to tell me they like meÖ. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: I like you.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: You do? Great. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Have you ever been down to the beach?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I have been to the beach.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I have been to the beach in a lot of -- (inaudible) -- places. You know, one place I went to the beach that you would not believe is in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Letís see if I can even find it. All right, just a minute. Iíve got to get to the right ocean here. (Laughter.) Letís see, where is this place? Okay. I have been to the Maldives in the ocean, right here. Can you believe that? All the way over on the other side of the globe. I think the most beautiful, beautiful beach Iíve ever been to is there.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: You went to the beach, not there? Where did you go to the beach?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, and thatís nice, isnít it? The ocean is nice. And a lot of the world is made up of ocean.
Okay, letís see. Somebody who hasnít --
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, Iíve answered that, havenít I? Many times. Letís not have any more of those questions. I think -- (inaudible) -- say I love about my work is that I get to meet lots and lots of different people, lots of people. And theyíre all different and I am able to talk about the United States and about what they need. I usually try to listen to what they have to say about their country and what they need and how we can help them.
Donít you think itís a good idea for the United States, that has so many wonderful things, that we should be able to help children in other parts of the world? So thatís what I try to do.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Sorry?
QUESTION: Who is the most difficult world leader you have to -- (inaudible)?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: The most difficult war leader?
QUESTION: World leader.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: World leader. Now, thatís a very hard question to answer. And you know what? I never answer it. (Laughter.) I get asked that question, and if I were to tell you who that person is then I could never even talk to that person again. So I always answer that question by saying Iím a diplomat, and a diplomat is somebody who tries to say things very smoothly and not to irritate people. So I get asked that question a lot by journalists and people, and Iíve said Iím sorry but I canít answer that question.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Stop the person from doing bad? Well, I have, I think. You know, itís not easy, but I had told you about this man Mr. Milosevic who is in the Balkans who -- thatís in Europe, here. Letís see, heís down here and heís a very bad man. And what he did was to send his soldiers and people in to kill people and move them out of their country. And so with the help of a lot of other countries and our Air Force, that did a terrific job, we stopped him. We stopped him. And that, I think -- I feel very good about that. We stopped him.
QUESTION: How do you feel to be Secretary of State?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, it feels good, I can tell you that, because you kind of feel that you have a very -- I think itís the best job in the world, actually. Maybe even better than the President. You know, I think itís a wonderful job. And I love it because I get to try to do good things. Okay?
QUESTION: Have you ever had to stay up all night working on problems?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I have, many times. And, you know, about two months ago when we were working on the Middle East peace problems, you know, the peace between Israel and the Palestinians and theyíre arguing about how to divide up some land. And we were up at Camp David, which is not very far from here. Itís about an hour from here. And I stayed up two or three nights, two or three nights in a row. And so you drink a lot of coffee and then youíre very tired afterwards. But I have. I have.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I donít know, because this morning I talked to our person who is over there working on it, and weíre working very, very hard. Itís probably the most important problem that we --
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