OYW Summit – Global Dignity Day

Approximately 30 young professionals from Pittsburgh are representing the region at the One Young World Conference in Zurich, Switzerland this week (September 1-3). Pittsburgh is a finalist to host the Conference in 2012 along with Johannesburg, and the winner will be announced Saturday (fingers crossed). I have the great fortune of being a delegate, and I must say that Day 1 of the Conference was AMAZING!

I was one of several ambassadors chosen to join HKH Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway for a special Global Dignity Day celebration at the Zurich International School. Prince Haakon co-founded the Dignity Project (www.globaldignity.org), whose mission is to “implement globally the universal right of every human being to lead a dignified life.” The Dignity Project is based on 5 principles:

  1. Every human being has a right to lead a dignified life.
  2. A dignified life means an opportunity to fulfill one’s potential, which is based on having a human level of health care, education, income and security.
  3. Dignity means having the freedom to make decisions on one’s life and to be met with respect for this right.
  4. Dignity should be the basic guiding principle for all actions.
  5. Ultimately, our own dignity is interdependent with the dignity of others.

Dignity Day events are carried out by volunteers all over the world who lead plenary and classroom sessions for students. This project is especially important in light of the recent terrorist attacks in Norway, and it was an honor to be chosen by Prince Haakon to participate in this amazing work.

After a special briefing with Prince Haakon we headed to the school, where each of us was assigned a group of students to lead through the exercise. I arrived in my classroom to find that I had a co-presenter, none other than Crown Princess Mette-Marit! I’m not sure how princesses are supposed to act, but she is one of the most down-to-earth people I’ve ever met, and our session was great!

As part of the exercise the students shared their own stories of global dignity with the group. The students told stories of how they’ve volunteered in developing countries, did a good deed, or simply made someone’s day brighter by just being a friend. It was wonderful to see that even at a young age these students understand the importance of respecting, tolerating, accepting, and caring for others, especially those in need. It’s good to know that even in a world plagued by hate, greed, and intolerance, there are still people who understand the importance of dignity in their own lives and the lives of others.

Allyce with Professor Pekka Himanen and HKH Crown Prince Haakon, Co-Founders of The Dignity Project

One Young World 2011 is off to a great start! I can’t wait to see what Day 2 has in store!

-Allyce, Program Officer at the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh

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