In a world where it seems no-one agrees on anything, a world where politics divides, religion divides, and race and even cultural borders seem to divide, dignity is something that everyone can agree on.” Global Dignity Co-Founders
“Global Dignity is the brainchild of three friends, concerned global citizens who met as Young Global Leaders at the World Economic Forum: HRH Crown Prince Haakon (Norway), Professor Pekka Himanen (Finland) and founder of Operation HOPE, John Hope Bryant (United States).
The three friends realized that the one thing that everyone in the world could agree on, irrespective of their differences is: We all want our Dignity to be recognized. Dignity is the very foundation of our humanity. Dignity is universal. Dignity is also the source of human rights.
The co-founders created Global Dignity in 2006. Since then they have worked with many Young Global Leaders and other partners in over 40 countries, hosting what are known as Dignity Days. This involves visiting local schools and communities around the world and teaching a “course in dignity” to youth.” (This passage was found here on the Global Dignity home page).
This is the second year that Canada has participated in Global Dignity Day and Byrne Creek Secondary was privileged to be invited to participate this year. With students from more than 60 different countries, diversity is the norm and the school is always seeking ways to connect and unite people that come from a variety of different backgrounds.
The school hosted workshops the day before October 16, 2012 and the day of Global Dignity Day October 17, 2012 with keynote speakers and a teleconference with 12 sites in Canada and one site in Taiwan.
Keynotes for the interactive workshop were Christopher Logan and Orville Lee. Christopher Logan is a member of the Forum of Young Global Leaders, who was named as the city chair of Global Dignity, Hong Kong. He gave us the context of how Global Dignity Day started. We were very lucky to have him at Byrne Creek!
Orville Lee, former CFL player and SFU Alumni, was convincing as he described how he gained confidence and ultimately dignity as he grew up. He engaged our students with the story of coming to Canada from Jamaican as a young boy and emphasized how ‘Your dignity is your destiny. “ He encouraged everyone to reach out and ask those around you for guidance, and stressed that when people see you working so hard to be a better person and achieve, they will work with you towards success so you don’t have to do this alone. Orville Lee explained how he found his individual dignity and respect through sport. He had a very successful football career and when he retired, he and his wife Ruth Lee started the Pathfinder Youth Society to help vulnerable youth transition.
Students and staff were very excited to have the opportunity to hear the keynotes stories! The message from both was powerful: each of us, in the everyday actions/choices that we make, help shape our world. Living with dignity and promoting a world filled with dignity depends on the simple fact that we all make choices each day that shape our world. The little things that we do, the everyday actions that all people are capable of, influence the world that we live in.
Students worked on their own stories of dignity, sharing them within this school community of peers and then wrote their stories and set a goal to commit to an action that promotes dignity in their world.
We learned that the conversation about what dignity means to each person can vary, but that finding that one exact definition is not the point. It is about creating the space and time to have these important conversations and work together to create a world filled global citizens that understand the importance and rights for all to live with dignity.
Thank you to all of our Byrne Creek partners, teachers and students for making this a successful event. Thank you so very much to our speakers for becoming an important part of Byrne Creek’s story. And a special thank you to Senator Yonah Martin for inviting us to participate and for being such a fantastic role model for living one’s life with Dignity.
Byrne Creek is a school that leads with HEART (Honestly, Empathy, Acheivement, Respect and Teamwork). Last year the school received the ASCD’s Vision in Action: Whole Child Award recognizing the staff’s unique work remaining adaptive and flexible in educational programming initiatives that support the whole child’s development (academic and social emotional). Byrne Creek is look forward to Global Dignity Day next year! We have a Centre for Dialogue videoconference facility and are hoping to find a “Buddy” school to share in our discussion. If you are interested please let us know!