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Students Join Nobel Laureates at Poland Summit

Warsaw, Poland, welcomed human rights luminaries including the Dalai Lama, former South African President Frederik Willem de Klerk, and former Polish President Lech Wałęsa, for three days in October as the host of the 13th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates. Movie star Sharon Stone, winner of this year’s Peace Summit Award, was also on hand in the Polish capital. But among the political dignitaries, social change agents, and politicians was another group of lesser-known activists: four lucky Haverford students.

Itzel Delgado ’16, Oluwatobi Alliyu ’16, Robin Banerji ’15, and Rrap Kryeziu ’16 were chosen from more than 50 applicants to go to Warsaw to learn from and engage with some of the world’s leading minds in social justice and humanitarianism. They attended workshops on peace and democracy and attend panels on social justice, solidarity, and reconciliation given by the Nobel winners.

“Attending the World Summit provided the opportunity to learn from individuals who have been able to navigate the obstacles of life and, ultimately, become agents of change in their own unique ways,” says Alliyu, a biology major who hopes to pursue a career in social entrepreneurship and healthcare. “Peace, justice, and social change are often presented as unattainable, but many attending the summit have proven that wrong.”

From Oct. 20 through Oct. 23, the Haverford students and their group advisor, Executive Director of the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship (CPGC) Parker Snowe ’79, kept a jam-packed schedule of panel sessions and workshops. Among the speakers they got to hear were Iranian women- and children’s-rights activist Shirin Ebadi, UN Under-Secretary General Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, North Irish peace activist Mairead Corrigan Maguire, and microfinance pioneer Muhammed Yunus, whose talk the students singled out as a highlight. They also found some time to tour Warsaw and take in a concert by the Euro Mediterranean Music Academy for Peace.

“The best part of the summit, without a doubt, was the chance to meet people from around the world who truly care about world peace,” says Delgado, a political science major. “Whether they were [college] students like myself, journalists, or Polish high school students, there was a sense of unity to change the world—a feeling I’ve only felt there.”

This trip to Poland marked the second year in a row that Haverford students attended a Nobel Laureate Summit at the invitation of 1947 Nobel Prize winners the American Friends Service Committee and with the sponsorship of the CPGC. Last year four other students, chosen from 30 applicants, attended the summit in Chicago.

Now that this year’s summit attendees are back on campus, they are eager to incorporate what they learned in Poland into their coursework and lives here at Haverford.

“I plan on integrating what I learned at the summit into my Haverford experience by participating in the Global Scholars Program—a seminar on social entrepreneurship and leadership,” says Alliyu. “As an Office of Multicultural Affairs intern, it is my
hope that I will also be able to use what I learned to start and contribute to conversations about social change on Haverford’s campus.”

--Rebecca Raber

Students cross in front of Founders Hall.

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