Keeping Humanity Afloat (Picture) – GSD’s humanitarian endeavours
By, Siofra Sharpe, Head of Humanitarian Affairs GSD
“You make a living by what you get; you make a life by what you give.” – Winston Churchill
What would a school of Diplomacy and International Relations be without a humanitarian heart, a desire to develop real projects for real people and real issues? I recently joined the Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations (GSD), to work on developing humanitarian endeavours and with the hope of helping the students weave a thread between their theoretical studies and their world in need outside.
With the vast amount of suffering in the world, along with the increasingly dangerous direction of international relations today, the goal is for GSD to produce graduates who will play an important role in alleviating suffering by showing better leadership. These future leaders will in turn act as role models for lessening the real dangers of war, abolishing torture wherever possible, empowering women, protecting children, alleviating poverty, advancing a world of laws, justice and fairness etc.
To achieve the above, a special “hands on” type of education must be achieved. GSD offers such an education, by employing three distinct channels:
3) Humanitarian aid
Within these three areas, it is altogether possible for GSD to already contribute substantially to humanitarian goals.
With regard to Education, we are working on a scholarship programme, known as the ‘Ischinger Scholarship’, where one qualified refugee from the local shelter is to be considered for a scholarship to do a Short Term Certificate Course (STCC)/Master. Also, a refugee who has been unable to finish his/her degree in his home country would be able to come and finish his/her studies with us.
In the area of education also, is the Turkey-Lesvos Training Course, an endeavour being developed to deepen the already existing ties made during a visit to the island of Lesvos in February 2016, to deliver aid in the form of supplies for those having just traversed the treacherous sea that lies between the countries’ coasts.
During this visit, and subsequent ones, GSD representatives met with the Mayor of Lesvos and his staff and discussed collaboration with Yasar University (just a short distance across the water in Turkey). The groundwork was established for this new project as well as the forging of a relationship of friendship and trust, leading to the Mayor of Lesvos being attributed an honorary degree at GSD for his outstanding efforts on the island.
This training course would be not only beneficial to refugees but good for GSD, as well as the island of Lesvos, who suffered through its ‘over-welcoming’ of refugees. Yasar is a private for-profit university that has recently seen an explosion in its student numbers. These are ‘internal” refugees who have been shut out of other Turkish universities recently and who have moved temporarily to Izmir until they find a more durable solution.
Regarding Humanitarian Aid, while in no way an “expert on Africa”, the groundwork has already been laid for collaboration between GSD and the authorities and people of Zanzibar, Tanzania. Two projects are in the works here: one being the supplying of water to villages and the other, a more targeted and new project known as the Zanzibar Built Heritage Job Creation Project, whose mission is its commitment to conserve Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, by teaching to locals, the skills and knowledge needed, to preserve its buildings.
Funds will be raised through individual contributions from students, student initiatives and events.
In the meantime, some of our students are busy with local projects, working namely in one of the shelters ‘Foyer Saconnex’ at the children’s daycare. The bachelor students, Viktoriia and Aisha, are helping mothers and a professional, run a group of under five year olds who are learning about routine in preparation for local school.
Another group will soon be getting involved playing and coaching football with the refugees from the shelter. Parallel to this, GSD is keeping close ties with our local Mayor, Mr. Philippe Schwarm, for the development of future projects and to ensure local support.
With spring on its way, it is high noon for some more rewarding activities!
Siofra Sharpe, Head of Humanitarian Affairs GSD