Our opinion: Kunin's return visit to Pittsfield, Mass., should be interesting

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Immigrant. Governor of Vermont. International ambassador. Madeleine Kunin has forged a remarkable path, one that took her through Pittsfield, Mass.

A 1952 graduate of Pittsfield High School, Ms. Kunin left the school below the golden dome for a career as an elected and appointed government official, educator and writer.

She will return to Pittsfield on Monday to discuss that career and her latest book at the South Congregational Church in Pittsfield.

"Coming of Age with Ambassador Madeleine May Kunin" begins at 6 p.m. and is the latest in The Berkshire Eagle's Conversation Series.

As a 6-year-old girl in 1940, Ms. Kunin fled Zurich, Switzerland, with her family in fear of a Nazi invasion. More than half a century later, she returned to her native land as a U.S. ambassador, serving from 1996 to 1999. In between, Ms. Kunin, a Democrat, served three terms as Vermont's first female governor and spent three years as President Bill Clinton's secretary of education.

A teacher at the college level, she is currently a professor at large at the University of Vermont in Burlington.

Ms. Kunin, 85, wrote her first memoir in 1994, and now, 25 years later, she has followed up with "Coming of Age: My Journey to the Eighties." In the foreword, Ms. Kunin observes that leaving public office has enabled her to rid herself of "the shrink wrap I once sealed myself in" and write more freely. "I no longer have to filter my words through a fine-meshed screen, leaving out phrases that might not please, or worse, offend and get me into trouble," she explains. "My existence, when I was in public life, depended on public approval. I belonged to my audience. Out of public office, I belong more to myself."

The book will be available for sale at Monday's event and there will be signings afterward.

Those in attendance will be able to ask Ms. Kunin questions about the book and her life. Appropriately, given Ms. Kunin's continued active participation in the world around her, her appearance is sponsored in partnership with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Berkshire Community College.

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