UNICEF Symposium 2016: The Saint’s exclusive preview of this year’s event

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The UNICEF Symposium

On 4 and 5 March, UNICEF St Andrews will be hosting their annual Symposium event, shedding light on the many humanitarian crises occurring across the world. As a charity dedicating its efforts to helping children in impoverished and underdeveloped areas, the theme of this year’s symposium is “Education”.

The Symposium event has promised a wide range of experts brought in to speak on the subject in their attempt to educate and inspire.

The Friday event will open with a keynote speech from respected founder of the Afghan Institute of Learning, Dr Sakena Yacoobi, who has dedicated her life to supporting and empowering women and girls in Afghanistan.

Photo: Lorelei Pfeffer
Photo: Lorelei Pfeffer

Saturday will continue with speeches from Professor Yossi Mekelberg from Regent’s University London, followed by Mary Jones, a higher education teacher with a Masters in Development Management. Later that day there will be speeches from Dr Matt Crowcombe the director of SOS Africa and Claudia Titley, his coworker, the graphic designer for the charity. The day will proceed with a question and answer session with each speaker, followed by the chance to talk to them in a more informal setting.

After last year’s success, the team is hoping to take this year’s event further and continue to raise awareness for their commendable cause. The weekend is guaranteed to be an eye opening experience and I would thoroughly encourage all to attend.

The launch – BARRIERS

Last Friday, the Union’s Club 601 was transformed to present the Launch Event for UNICEF’s Humanitarian Symposium, with its highlighting themes of education, poverty and war.

Upon entering 601, guests were greeted by large screens projecting the image of spokeswoman Malala, speaking on faith, education and gender equality. The hall was filled with a vast amount of information, however, the arrows around the exhibition ensured the exhibition remained succinct.

The launch was divided into three sections for the viewer to walk through. Firstly, we were presented with poverty, the issues of slums and the lack of education due to an inability to access resources. Poverty encapsulated many different issues faced, from challenging demographics to the financial status of the family in question, with photographs and text alike backing up these ideas articulately.

Photo: Lorelei Pfeffer
Photo: Lorelei Pfeffer

Secondly, the exhibition focused on gender issues relevant to education. The exhibition presented hard-hitting information about female genital mutilation and other such horrors that girls in parts of the world have to endure. The exhibition ensured the accessibility of UNICEF’s cause through a look at the differing lives of two girls, Samira from Syria and Rachel from England. The direct comparison cast into light the harsh reality of how different the lives of two young girls from different corners of the world could be.

Following the arrowed floor, littered with statistics and facts, the issue of war was tackled. The exhibition shed light on war induced trauma, the barrier of terrorism and provided a case study to put these issues in context. The exhibition had a good balance of visuals and text, with a range of ways you could observe the information provided.

A humbling and admittedly new experience to be had in Club 601, UNICEF ensured that with the resources they had, their message of education was accessible. With little to no funds, the team behind the UNICEF Launch Event managed to create a hard hitting and interactive maze of information, clearly highlighting their theme for the upcoming Symposium in an intriguing and innovative way. The launch was a testament to the enthusiasm and passion of the people here in St Andrews and acted as an indication as to how effectively their Symposium will be executed.

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