NYU Florence Students Present at the City of Florence’s Global Mayor’s Conference ’Unity in Diversity’

 

 

Report

On Sunday, November 8, a group of NYU Florence students were invited to address assembled mayors, municipal representatives, and distinguished guests at the City of Florence’s global mayor’s conference ‘Unity in Diversity’ in Florence City Hall’s historic Salone dei Cinquecento. The proceedings were projected for the general public onto a big screen in Florence’s central square Piazza della Signoria below. Over 4 days, mayors from Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Europe were brought together to discuss how culture, education and intercultural dialogue can be vehicles for peace and the role that city governments can and should play to support policies that foster these processes at the local level. Speakers included Nobel prize winners and distinguished special guests like U.N. Messenger of Peace H.R.H. Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, actors Forest Whitaker and Tim Robbins; Nobel Prize Laureats Tawakkol Karman, Shirin Ebadi, and Betty Williams; and NYU’s own Awam Amkpa.
 
Sunday morning’s concluding panel on Education and Intercultural Dialogue featured addresses by Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, Ugandan education activist Sam Okello, and UNESCO’s chair for religious pluralism and peace, all of whom emphasized the importance of education in combating the negative effects of violence and extremism on youth. The NYU Florence student panel, the only students invited to participate in the conference, was composed of Liberal Studies freshmen Helen You, Eilish Anderson, Michelle Deme, Lucy Lyons and Ismail Ibrahim; NYU Shanghai Junior Emily Flippen; and Duke University Senior Nicole Mwaura. The students shared their own personal experiences of global education and its impact on their world view, their understanding of different cultures, and their, and their country’s, role in the world.
 
The Mayor of Florence and other city officials and special guests left their seats after the presentation to commend the students on the maturity of their presentation and for so forcefully and gracefully bringing the voices of the young people who embody the values of global education to the proceedings. ‘They are the drivers of the future,’ the Mayor of Florence told them after the event, and ‘There are a few future politicians among them,’ commented Wole Soyinka, as they were surrounded and congratulated by assembled guests. The Mayor of Florence featured the students’ presentation as a highlight of the day’s proceedings on his personal Twitter account. NYU Florence students showed the participants and the public what the future may look like if more and more cities around the world promote opportunities for international education and cultural exchange. “I truly believe that if we challenge the world’s students to think and learn globally, and we arm them with the tools to interact across cultural, religious, and ethnic boundaries with not only intelligence but empathy, it is then that we will truly begin to see a global transformation“, concluded NYU Florence student Nicole Mwaura. Thanks to the students, the audience could see that transformation happen right before their eyes; her words couldn’t have been more poignant.

The Day in Pictures

Conclusion

As humans, we fear what we do not know. The root of so many global conflicts and injustices can be traced to intolerance that stems from ignorance of other cultures. In order to create future generations of peacemakers, it is imperative to embrace diversity and global education as methods of promoting unity. Global education is an important first step on this path to a more tolerant and understanding youth, the population that has the greatest ability to enact change on a local and global scale. Thank you for providing us with the opportunity to share our experiences and thoughts on global education and its place in today’s world.

Full Program

It appears your Web browser is not configured to display PDF files. No worries, just click here to download the PDF file.