Seven La Châtaigneraie students attended the 10th Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy held on 20th February at the Centre International de Conférences Genève. Student journalist Zoe Donaldson reports on the day’s events in the article below.
On Tuesday 20th of February 2018, seven La Châtaigneraie students in Years 10 and 12, chaperoned by Mr Hambley (English dept.), spent the day in the role of journalists at the 10th Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy—the 9th consecutive year of our school’s participation. Sponsored by a coalition of 25 human rights NGOs from around the world, this annual conference assembles hundreds of courageous dissidents and human rights victims, as well as activists, diplomats, journalists and student leaders to shine a spotlight on urgent human rights situations that require global attention.
The event was structured around thematic panel discussions that followed on from individual speeches exploring personal struggles for human rights, democracy and freedom. Through these inspiring human rights activists sharing their stories of courage, we were able to better understand the problems and inequalities that the world is facing every day, of which people are often unaware. Speakers included human rights heroes, activists and former political prisoners from China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, and Venezuela.
In addition to hearing these incredible stories, we also were given the chance to interview some of the speakers. This meant we did background research and prepared questions in order to have a more personal approach, and a deeper understanding what it means to go through something awful and come out of it fighting for human rights. Being able to talk to some of these speakers was an incredible experience because of how encouraging and strong they were in carrying their messages to keep fighting for justice, freedom, equality and what is right in modern society.
Another highlight of the event was Year 12 student Audrey Cabanel taking to the podium to introduce an absent—imprisoned—human rights activist, symbolised by an empty chair on stage.
As students, having the honor to attend this Summit was an exciting, inspiring and eye-opening experience. Moreover, attending the Summit each year holds great value for the inspired La Châtaigneraie students who, after hearing these incredible stories, are looking to spread the messages and inform others, and to encourage people to fight and make a difference.