UNAOC High Representative
H.E. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser
The Opening Ceremony
UNAOC-EF Summer School
Tarrytown, 15 June 2015
Dear Summer School Participants,
Distinguished Representatives of EF Education First,
Distinguished guest speakers, trainers and facilitators,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an honor to address you today. You are an inspiring group of young people who have demonstrated extraordinary commitment and potential to be an ever-growing force for positive social change. It is a pleasure for me to welcome you to this unique program, the third one we organize in partnership with EF Education First. I also look forward to welcoming you to the United Nations Headquarters later this week.
Since its creation in 2007, the UNAOC has recognized that young people are both partners and stakeholders in achieving our mission and building the world we want. We have championed the expertise and knowledge of young people, and their ability to be role models and sources of inspiration for their peers and across generations. We have committed ourselves to create opportunities to work with youth locally and globally. We have done this for one simple reason: because it is the right thing to do; It is a democratic and demographic priority!
Young people are the most impacted by conflict. They are also underrepresented in conversation about their own futures! In many countries, they represent over 50% of the population. Yet, they are not fully involved in decision-making processes. How can the world develop solutions to global problems without seeking fresh input, ideas and perspectives? It is high time we listen to you and work with you to build a peaceful and more equitable world.
The Summer School is an opportunity for you to be part of this conversation and for you to set an agenda, together, to take action.
Why is taking action now important?
Because we are facing some serious challenges as a global community. As a matter of fact, the events of this past year remind us that it is perhaps more pressing than ever before. As you know, our world has continued to experience tragic events directly connected to identity-based tensions and the need for greater belonging and social inclusion.
I would like to personally thank you for being here today and for choosing to renew your commitment to the search for solutions. In your life, you have witnessed injustice and violence. You may even have experienced it directly. You know our world is not perfect. Yet you choose to fight, peacefully, to transform it. Not everyone does this. You are making a difference and can rally even more people to this cause.
I would also like to thank our partner, EF Education First, whose generous support and collaboration over the past three years have been critical to implement the Summer School. The Alliance is deeply grateful for their renewed commitment to invest in youth education and development.
Dear Summer School participants, I want to underline the power of what you are about to experience now.
During the coming week, you will live, learn and collaborate together. The potential of this experience is truly unique. Think of the stories you will bring back home and the lasting connections you are making.
They will be a powerful testimony to the strength of our world’s diversity and the power that arises when cultures, faiths and perspectives unite to create positive change.
I encourage you to make the most of this educational experience. The lessons learned at this Summer School will stay with you for a long time. I also encourage you to include the voice those in your communities who are not here today but who can benefit from your experience. The summer school is also about bringing in their aspirations in the search for solutions. I have no doubt you will exercise your passion in this way.
Remember that this summer school programme is not just a gathering.
It is meant to open your minds and hearts to the real world, the true life that we share together no matter how our colors or backgrounds are different.
Our target is that we provide you with this opportunity to prepare you for the future when you become political leaders, civil society figures, and decision makers, so you can take the right decision on how to constructively use the media, on how can you enhance the education curricula, on how to positively look at migration issue and to be able to support the engagement of youth at all levels in your respective countries.
And this is what I want you to remember.
I look forward to hearing about your experience at the Summer School and about the great work you will do together in the future.
Thank you for contributing to advance the mission of the Alliance of Civilizations. When we encourage multiple perspectives that promote peace, inclusion and harmony, we build a better world for all.
Enjoy your stay in Tarrytown and New York!