“I was deeply moved…”


Yeardley Smith is the voice of television character Lisa Simpson, and an active Grameen Foundation supporter.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hello Delightfuls,

Pull up a chair, I have had a very fancy 43 hours!

I just got back from Washington, DC, where I attended a private reception co-hosted by my favorite Grameen Foundation, for Professor Muhammad Yunus, Mary Robinson, and Dr.  Pedro Jos Greer, all of whom received the Presidential Medal of Freedom yesterday.

You can imagine that when I said I was going to DC for the party, my friends had two questions for me: What are you going to wear? And do you get to attend the ceremony itself and meet President and Mrs. Obama?

The answer to question #1 is: I wore a silk, blue and white flowered cocktail dress from the 1960’s, with a scoop neck, shirred bodice, sarong-style skirt, and cap sleeves. I finished it off with peau de soie, navy-blue peep toes. Nobody needs to know it took me three hours of trying on everything in my closet in Los Angeles to come up with that effortless ensemble.

The answer to question #2 is: No, I didn’t get to go the ceremony and meet the President and Mrs. O., but I got to meet people who met them! Alex Counts said he shook the President’s hand for about 30 seconds. So, of course, I shook Alex’s hand extra long last night. You know, glory by association.

The highlight of the evening for me was seeing Professor Yunus. We had met at a small dinner party in his honor in May, and I liked him instantly. I just wanted to sit next to him that night and smile at him. His mere presence makes you feel happy inside. And he’s funny! I had no idea he would be so funny.  He loves a good joke.

When we saw each other last night we burst into grins, gave each other a big bear hug and a kiss on each cheek.  He introduced me to his daughter, Monica, and her new husband, Brendon, who are both huge “Simpsons” fans. (Such fun.) I told him he’ll need to build himself an extra house for all the awards he’s collecting these days. And he asked me when I was coming to visit Bangladesh. (December).

As I stood there talking to this man who carries the vast impact of his achievements with unassuming grace; who is so imminently approachable –allowing me to weigh the Medal of Freedom in the palm of my hand as we talked (it’s heavy!)– I was deeply moved by the way each accolade still seems to mean so much to him. There wasn’t a shadow of indifference in his smile last night. If you didn’t know better, you’d think the Presidential Medal of Freedom was the first time he’s ever been recognized for his 30+ years in the fight against poverty.

The cherry on top was visiting the Grameen Foundation offices on F Street before I headed back to the airport this afternoon. As a bona fide Grameen groupie, I liked seeing the Com Center and Alex’s messy desk. (I can’t prove it, but I know it’s true: All trail blazers have messy desks.) The staff greeted me warmly and I was honored to speak for a few minutes at the beginning of their lunchtime staff meeting about my Grameen trip to Haiti in May.  I thanked them for doing the heavy lifting back home. It made them smile. They were a most gracious audience.
So there you have it. I think I was in DC for all of 43 hours, but I loved every minute of it.


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7 Responses to ““I was deeply moved…””

  1. Sofia Bustamante Says:

    Hello Yeardley,

    I appreciate your post. I resonate with your descriptions of Dr Yunus’ humility. I loved also how Obama also took a back stage in the ceremony, allowing the spotlight to be on these great people whose quietness and humility speaks volumes.


  2. maria Says:

    I am also a great fan of Dr.Yunus.
    As a matter of fact, he is on my list of
    heroes right up there with Dr.Paul Farmer.


  3. Jane Patten Says:

    Now I need to shake your hand!! What an amazing organization you are involved with…..Bravo!


  4. DeLauné Michel Says:

    that was so beautiful. starting with your outfit 😉 and ending with this amazing man and his achievements. thank you for all your are doing with it and for helping me get involved too.

  5. Diane Nelson Says:

    A typically beautifully written description, Yeardley. I can appreciate the thrill of touching someone who’s touched one of the Obamas. It’s almost good enough.
    This organization is lucky to have you.
    And I miss you. When do we get to see each other?

  6. Betty Sams Says:

    Dear Yeardley. And I am deeply moved by your description of our wonderful Professor Yunus and the Presidential medal of Freedom event. And I am still chuckling over your description of the hands that touched and the dress that took me back to my era We met at the reception at the Willard and I do hope that when you are next in town I will have a chance to see you again. My late husband, Jim, felt privileged to work with Dr Yunus and Grameen and Grameen is lucky to have you.
    warmest regards, Betty Sams

  7. maria teresa Says:

    mi nombre es maria teresa, soy tan pobre y con tantas dificultades economicas como las personas a las que ustedes les han ayudado me gustaria que por favor me ayudaran estoy de deudas que ya no soy capaz con ellas, lanzo un grito de desespero auxilio sos internacional a personas como ustedes. mi cel es 3136627322 si me pueden ayudar gracias

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