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cookeville

The images are from another place and time, grainy, black and white photos among an archive of American experiences from “back in the day” and they appear in my mind when I think about the word “polio.” One of these ancient photos is of a warehouse-sized room filled with row after row of capsules each containing a person, like some strange 1950s era sci-fi movie. Dozens of nurses in old-style uniforms and caps are buzzing around the tubes. The capsules have viewing windows, access ports, gauges and dials and at one end a pressurized seal where each patient’s head extends outside the tube. The scores of tubes in the image are iron-lungs, the much feared last resort treatment for the thousands and thousands of Americans afflicted with polio who, because of paralysis, were unable to breath on their own. Their lives were extended through the pumps that provided negative air pressure, taking over the function of their ineffective diaphragms.

A wise man once told me that it’s much easier to sell people something “they think they want” than something “you think they need.” That dictum is especially apropos to the task of global affairs awareness – teaching people about the world. We are a nation awash in information resources that offer an endless stream of raw data, context and analyses of the world around us but most Americans are content to leave understanding foreign affairs, our interests abroad and international things to someone else.

Now in Cookeville

January 22, 2010

by Pat Ryan “How did this happen in Cookeville?” was the question I was asked in both Nashville and Knoxville when, almost three years ago, I described the newly founded Tennessee World Affairs Council to university professors and civic leaders in those cities. I was on the road building relationships with institutions that would partner […]

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