On Monday, 19 October 2020, the Permanent Secretariat of the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates participated in the 2020 RSHM Virtual Student Leadership Retreat. This is the first Permanent Secretariat collaboration that has particularly focused upon students in middle school – extending its influence to pre-teens in primary education.

As a cross-border symposium in the midst of a Covid-19 pandemic, this event provided the opportunity for another first: a ‘virtual’ meeting across four countries, uniting nearly 100 students, aged 11 to 14, connecting from four Marymount Schools in London, Paris and Rome, and speakers in Italy, France and Mexico.

Sarah Thomas, Head of School of Marymount Paris, stressed the importance of finding new ways to stay connected and continue learning and growing:

This year, we are embarking on a new way to learn differently, communicate differently, connect differently… We believe it is not only our ability to travel to other countries or see one another in person that connects us to one another or makes us global citizens.”  

Students reflected on the theme “How does global cooperation impact global health?” and engaged in workshops to refine leadership skills and discuss the importance of collective action and change – on a local and community level – as well as on a global scale.

Ms Thomas explained that cooperation between the Permanent Secretariat and Marymount Paris was built on shared values:

The work of the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates aligns very naturally with our schools… The inspiration and example of Nobel Peace Laureates, and exposure to their challenges and triumphs, are vital reminders that youth is not an obstacle for change – quite the opposite.”

Ms Livia Malcangio, author of the educational book, Being Nobel, and Director of Institutional Relations and Protocol for the Permanent Secretariat, was invited to participate as keynote speaker for the Retreat. Ms Malcangio shared her personal experiences working as a human rights activist and provided insights into the life and work of three, carefully-selected Nobel Peace Laureates, to illustrate the power and impact of global cooperation.

A special Youth Workbook edition of her book, Being Nobel, was published for the students, and featured chapters and interactive worksheets dedicated to Nobel Peace Laureates, Malala Yousafzai, Mohammad Yunus and Wangari Maathai. The Youth Workbook edition is the first of its kind, designed to render the stories, challenges and triumphs of Nobel Peace Laureates accessible and inspirational to a younger, global audience – the next generation of transformational leaders.

During her presentation, Ms Malcangio highlighted the importance of education and teamwork, the benefits of being multilingual, as well as the characteristics shared by these Laureates, namely: courage, generosity and compassion. These Laureates also recognized the role and importance of women as peacemakers and in creating a better world for their families and communities.

Ms Malcangio encouraged all the students to become peacemakers too: “I believe that each one of us, even [middle school students], can leave a mark for peace in a social context, be it at home, at school, or in your community. You just need … ingredients that a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate typically has: a noble idea which can make a community happier, a good heart, courage, and a team.”

The students were also afforded an opportunity to engage directly with Ms Malcangio and ask her questions about her own experiences, as well as the work and lives of the different Laureates. They ended with a workshop that reflected on their experiences.

We learned about who the Nobel Laureates are and how we can make a difference too.

The values of the World Summit and our RSHM school network are similar – we both want to change the world.

Other guest speakers included Claire Molyneaux, Co-CEO of Publicis Emil who ran a presentation and workshop on effective communication, and Saskia Nino de Rivera, founder of Mexico-based organization, Reinserta, that is fighting to change the Mexican penitentiary system and advocates for infants born in prison, and adolescent inmates who have committed serious crimes. In 2019, Saskia won a Vital Voices Global Leadership Award, as well as the Preemptive Love Prize for Youth Activism at the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates held in Mérida, Mexico. Her organization, Reinserta, has helped hundreds of children born in Mexico’s prisons, and hundreds more young offenders, become stable, healthy members of society.

“These children are the future, just as our children are part of the future…Something can be done. Always.”

More information:
RSHM Student Leadership Retreat 2020: https://www.marymount.fr/leadership-retreat-2020
RSHM Global Network of Schools: www.globalnetworkrshm.com
Marymount International School Paris: www.marymount.fr
Reinserta: https://reinserta.org/ 
Being Nobel: http://www.nobelpeacesummit.com/youth-program/being-nobel/
World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates: http://www.nobelpeacesummit.com