Humanitarians Hear Stories from the Students of UWCD

On April 23, the Co-Chair of the Aurora Prize Selection Committee and the Co-Founder of the Not On Our Watch humanitarian initiative, George Clooney, and international activist John Prendergast, along with founders, donors, friends and supporters of UWC Dilijan, visited the college.

Three students of UWC shared their personal stories of Education as Transformation - how education had changed their outlook and what new perspectives they had discovered during their studies as a result of communication with young people from different countries, some of which are currently in a state of conflict.

One of the presentations told the topical story of a girl who felt the impact of the recent escalation
of the conflict on the Armenian border: not only had she lost a relative to the conflict but also her brother had been wounded. Another story was about an Armenian young man with physical difficulties: he talked about how he had managed to struggle through the general lack of inclusivity in society and found himself at UWCD with the perspective and opportunity to choose whatever future he liked. Another young man dedicated his speech to the road full of hardships he had faced as a young person thirsty for knowledge in a small city in Brazil. He talked about the inspiration his first teacher shared with him, which in the end brought him to the next step of his self-development, education at UWC Dilijan.

The UWC Dilijan students had the opportunity to communicate with George Clooney and John Prendergast during the Q&A session: they asked topical questions on human rights and humanitarian issues and shared their own stories. They discussed issues like the importance of education, ways of empowering people and how to make the world a better place to live in. George Clooney and John Prendergast shared their vision of the importance of the humanitarian work carried out by the “Not On Our Watch” humanitarian initiative with the students and referenced events in countries that are facing the violent atrocities of war, conflict and dictatorship. They highlighted the importance of using all available tools to spread the word so that people in every corner of the world are aware about violence and injustice. It was particularly interesting to hear how their strategy attempts to inhibit the flow of funds to exert pressure on those responsible for breaches of humanitarian values.

All our guests, who included many donors and supporters, were interested to meet the students, engaged in active conversation about their future plans and hear about their prospective career choices. They appreciated the students’ motivation and determination to achieve influence in various spheres of life. The whole day was warm, relaxed and friendly; students were excited to have an opportunity to meet and ask questions of people contributing to peace and sustainability in vulnerable areas of the world. We are most grateful to George Clooney and John Prendergast for the openness, spontaneity and generosity with which they interacted.