"Look Around and See Only Friends"
December 26, 1983
On December 26, 1983, as a young spokesperson for peace, Samantha addressed the Children’s Symposium on the Year 2001 held in Kobe, Japan.
“I have to begin with an apology. My father helped me with my speech and look — I discovered that he doesn’t know a single word of Japanese! Luckily, I have learned some of your language. Since I got here, I have been trying to learn as much as possible. So let me begin by saying Nihon no minasan Konnichiwa (Hello everybody in Japan).
I think maybe you should know something about me and the way I live back home. I was born in northern Maine, and we lived at the edge of the wilderness for most of my life. We even had bears and bobcats and moose visiting our backyard. Now I live in a town called Manchester, Maine. It is a small, country town. The number of people in town is about 2,000. I probably saw more people than that at the airport here. Like most kids eleven years old, I’m in the sixth grade and the subjects I study are English, reading, math, science, and social studies. Until last April, I had never traveled outside the eastern United States, I had never even heard of sushi!
Then, because I had written a letter to Yuri Andropov, I found myself in Moscow, Leningrad, and at a beautiful camp on the Black Sea near Yalta. I was on airplanes that took me over many foreign countries. After my trip to Russia — which actually should be called the Soviet Union — I came back to the same school and the same teachers and the same kids in Manchester, Maine. I didn’t think I had changed at all, but, boy, had they changed!
Well, they were all asking questions like they had never asked before: What was the Soviet Union like? What were the kids like over there? How was the food? I discovered that my trip had made us all aware of parts of the world and people of the world that none of us had ever paid much attention to before.
And now I’ll admit that I discovered I had changed, too. I don’t feel as nervous in front of new people anymore. And I don’t worry so much about understanding how people act in other lands. If I could bring the people of Maine here, you’d see that they’re peaceful and easy to get along with. And I discovered that I grew up a lot this year.
But, today, we are not here to look back on the summer or to look backward at all. We are here to look ahead. I spent the last several weeks picturing myself in the year 2001, and thought of all the things that I would like the world to be eighteen years from today.
First of all, I don’t want to have these freckles anymore, and I want this tooth straightened, and I hope I like the idea of being almost thirty. Maybe it’s because I have traveled a lot and maybe it’s because I’ve met so many wonderful people who look a little different from the way I look — maybe their skin, or their eyes, or their language is not like mine — but I can picture them becoming my best friends…. Maybe it’s because of these things that I think the year 2001 and the years that follow are going to be just great.
When I close my eyes and think about the future, this is what I see. I see a computer, and stored in that computer is information on exactly how much food there is in the world. It tells where there are large crops. It tells where the wheat supply is good for that year, and also about the crops of corn and rice and potatoes, and it won’t forget the beef and poultry and fish.
This computer will also show where the people are who don’t have enough food. By the year 2001, the computer can also tell us where the ships and the airplanes are that can take the food from where it is directly to the people who need it.
In my computer of the year 2001, it also says where the wood for houses and the steel and concrete for building can be found, and it shows where the work are for the building the new houses and roads and hospitals and schools and factories.
And when I close my eyes, guess what? I know how to work that computer and match up all of the things that will be needed for the people who will need them. And soon we will know how to move one to the other regardless of what country they’re in or what borders have to be crossed.
My computer of 2001 will transfer good food, good shelter, and good clothing to the people who need them, and all of it will come from places and countries where these things are plentiful so that it won’t hurt what my teacher explains is “the balance of trade.”
In my 2001, there’s an abundance of everything, and lots of ways to harvest it and transport it to people in need.
By the way, my computer is made up of microchips and wires and electric gismos from probably 158 different countries. It’s a very friendly international computer, and I hope you’ll join me in 2001, to help push all the buttons.
Next, I would like to share with you a wish not for 2001, but for this year 1984, the new year.
What I wish for is something I’ll call the International Granddaughter Exchange. I guess if I were a boy, I’d call it the International Grandson Exchange. But I’m not a boy, so I’ll stick with granddaughter. The International Granddaughter Exchange would have the highest political leaders in nations all over the world sending their granddaughters or nieces — (or, okay, grandsons and nephews) — to live with families of opposite nations. Soviet leaders’ granddaughters would spend two weeks in America. American leaders’ granddaughters would spend two weeks in the Soviet Union. And, wherever possible, granddaughters of other opposing countries would exchange visits and we would have better understanding all over the world.
And now I will try my wish in Japanese: Sekaiju ni heiwa ga kimasu yo mi (I wish for the world peace and understanding).
Last summer, I had the amazing chance to visit the beautiful and awesome Soviet Union. I loved making friends with those girls and boys, and I think they enjoyed meeting an American kid. Let’s keep doing it! Let’s find a way to get some of those girls and boys to visit Japan, and America, and China, and Peru. And let’s find a way for you to visit Soviet kids and American kids, kids who can’t speak a word of Japanese — even kids who drive in American cars.
If we start with an International Granddaughter Exchange and keep expanding it and expanding it, then the year 2001 can be the year when all of us can look around and see only friends, no opposite nations, no enemies, and no bombs.
My grandparents are not important political leaders. In fact, one grandfather of mine was a doctor and one is a retired minister. But I’ve had the privilege of being an international granddaughter and let me tell you that it is one terrific experience.
We have started our exciting trip to the year 2001. I’ve told you two of my favorite visions: the far-off vision of a computer to help deliver the world’s abundance to the world’s needy, and a closer vision, the International Granddaughter Exchange.
My father, who is back in Maine, didn’t help with the end of my speech, so he’ll probably be surprised when I say, Why don’t you all come back home with me and meet my friends there!
Thank you for your attention. Domo arigato gozai mashita.”