Stories from Our Community

Professor Muhammad Yunus Meets with Elliott School Students

November 04, 2016

WASHINGTON, DC – Professor Muhammad Yunus on a visit to GW, hosted by the Elliott School of International Affairs, graciously agreed to spend the day meeting with students and faculty prior to his public speaking event. Elliott School students interested in international development, social entrepreneurialism, and Southeast Asian studies, among other disciplines, received the opportunity of a lifetime recently when they were invited to a small gathering over tea and the chance to talk with Nobel Laureate and father of microfinance, Professor Muhammad Yunus. “Giving our students the opportunity to interact with a visionary like Professor Yunus is one of those moments that they will remember for the rest of their lives. We are so lucky here the Elliott School to be able to offer opportunities like this to hear from dynamic people in foreign affairs like Professor Yunus who have literally changed the course of history. It’s kind of staggering when you think about,” reflected Kyle Renner of the Institute for International Economic Policy (IIEP) which co-sponsored the event.

Several students spoke passionately to Professor Yunus about their own activities helping to alleviate poverty in the developing world.  Karim Bousselham, a Masters candidate in finance described his experience teaching in Tanzania and the frustrations associated with the perverse financial incentives he saw in the system there. He asked Professor Yunus how to stay positive in the face of institutional impediments to change. Professor Yunus responded by describing that continuing to try in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds is not a choice, but an imperative. He went on to say that if people ever stopped attempting the impossible, the result would be that no inventions, no innovations, and no social change would ever occur.

Tushar Madan, a senior International Affairs and Economics major at the Elliott School and member of the University Honors Program joined Professor Yunus for lunch at President Knapp’s Residence, “having read much about Professor Yunus’ work throughout my time at GW, getting the opportunity to actually meet with him was quite the honor,” Tushar remarked, noting that, “events like this embody GW’s mentality of learning both inside and out of the classroom.”

Elliott School faculty were likewise treated to a similar opportunity to meet with Professor Yunus  over breakfast where Professor James Foster gave introductory remarks. “I once asked Yunus what he did for fun,” Foster said. “He told me he spent his spare time thinking of new strategies to help people help themselves. That’s the kind of person he is.”

In addition to the many awards, accolades, and honorary degrees that Professor Yunus has received over the years, here are few little known facts about Muhammad Yunus:

  • On Google+, Muhammad Yunus is one of the most followed person worldwide, with over 2.6 million followers
  • 14 January, 2008 was declared "Muhammad Yunus Day" in Houston, Texas
  • Muhammad Yunus was a boy scout and attended the 8th World Boy Scout Jamboree in Ontario, Canada in 1955

Read more about Professor Yunus in the GW Story Feature about the event and the President’s Medal Ceremony.