The 7th Annual Albert Schweitzer Leadership for Life Conference came to an end last weekend and left a deep impression on all attendees. We were joined by 295 young people aged 15 to 18 from Ireland, India, Palestine, USA, Northern Ireland, Saudi Arabia and Denmark.
There was a distinctive theme around human rights and peace-building. We were delighted to welcome Emily Logan, Noeline Blackwell and Ian White as speakers, all of whom are distinguished and respected individuals. Each speaker received a standing ovation and multiple questions from young people.
Here are the 4 Leadership Lessons imparted to us by Emily Logan (first Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and former Ombudsman for Children in Ireland)
1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s a mistake to isolate yourself.
2. Don’t spend too much time worrying about the opinions of others.
3. When you work with a good mentor, they will tell you the truth about yourself in a respectful way and ensure that you feel safe at the same time. This is a wonderful way to grow and learn.
4. Don’t avoid fear, it is not necessarily a negative thing. Some of the most exciting things can happen even when you feel the most fearful.
Noeline Blackwell spoke about her leadership journey as one of Ireland’s most progressive human rights lawyers. She said, “Maybe none of us have really grown up. One of the first things we say as children when we are playing is, ‘It’s not fair!’ And I still get to say that, as a lawyer.”
Noeline has a particular interest in the relationship between economics and human rights. “The recession left people in serious poverty, there was very little voice for people who were shocked and damaged when their worlds fell apart. Financial institutions were prioritised. You cannot save big business at the expense of preventing people from living with dignity.”
Ian White, a peace builder who has worked in places like Northern Ireland, Afghanistan, Palestine, Malaysia, Liberia and Haiti over the course of his 30 year career held the rapt attention of our delegates.
He said, “My whole life has been about building improbable relationships. I believe that everybody is a good person. Good people are capable of doing bad things. Drop some words if they don’t work for you. I don’t use the word terrorist. It’s not a helpful word if you want to build peace. At our meetings, they’d look in each other’s eyes and see the humanity. They’d ask, ‘How many children do you have? What’s it like living in your place?’”
You can download our high resolution photographs from this Dropbox folder.
County photographs have been sent to regional newspapers throughout Ireland, so do check in to see if your county image has been published!
A great deal of hard work and planning goes into the Conference and we commend all of the volunteers and staff who poured their energies into ensuring that the week was a valuable learning experience for the delegates.