A Letter from William Alford


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Special Olympics is truly global and it has been a privilege and a wonderful learning experience to see how Mrs. Shriver has made that possible. Whether listening to small children recount their joy at being Special Olympians or speaking to heads of state about the need to do more, the love and determination she has brought to bear transcend barriers of language and culture. Indeed, that passion and energy have been indefatigable, as evidenced in the autumn of 2007 when she not only travelled half way across the world for the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghai at age 86 but also insisted on maintaining a schedule that few people half her age could even imagine.

Tim Shriver rightly says, as did his dad before him, that those who volunteer for Special Olympics get at least as much out of the experience as the athletes. Being involved in the movement has enriched greatly my sense of what's possible in a myriad of ways. It has inspired Dr. Michael Stein and I to found the Harvard Law School Project on Disability which, working with Special Olympics, helps nations around the world bring their legal framework into compliance with the standards articulated in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. It has given me a new and inspiring way to engage with and learn about China, which has been my professional focus. And it provided a marvelous opportunity for my family and I to give of ourselves much closer to home.

Thank you so much.

William P. Alford

Henry L. Stimson Professor of Law

Vice Dean for the Graduate Program and International Legal Studies

Director of East Asian Legal Studies

Chair of the Harvard Law School Project on Disability

About William Alford

William P. Alford is currently Henry L. Stimson Professor of Law and Vice Dean for the Graduate Program and International Legal Studies at Harvard Law School. He is Director of East Asian Legal Studies at Harvard Law, and is regarded as an expert in the field of Chinese law.

He is an honorary professor of Renmin University, Zhejiang University and the China National School of Administration, and an Honorary Fellow of the American Studies Institute of the Department of Law of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. He directed the China Center for American Law Study, the first academic program in U.S. law in the PRC, was a founder in 1982 of the U.S. Committee on Legal Education Exchange with China, is the recipient of a number of awards and fellowships for his work on China, and is on a host of advisory and editorial boards.