Betsy Leimbigler, our Fashion and Culture columnist shares her experiences as the Director of National Engagement for Global Dignity (GD) Canada. She explains how collaboration and social good can come together to produce tangible results on a subjective term, dignity.
Dignity: It is not something quite physical, nor simple to define. Yet, we can see and feel its manifestations; we can sense it when it is present and when it is lacking.
Global Dignity is an independent, non-profit, non-political organization focused on empowering young people with dignity. The NGO was founded by Prince Haakon of Norway, Operation HOPE Founder, Chairman and CEO John Hope Bryant and Professor Pekka Himanen. It aims to inspire respect and promote the idea that every human being has the universal right to lead a dignified life. The NGO leverages its global network to have countries across the world take part in sharing dignity to tens of thousands of people every year.
Spreading Dignity through Collaboration
Canada is among one of the countries that has been doing very well with GD. Giovanna Mingarelli, Chair of Global Dignity Canada, recently participated in the Global Dignity summit in Oslo, where Canada was lauded for its initiatives. GD has been a successful operation worldwide, and GDD
Canada last year saw nearly 9, 000 students in Canada participating from over 50 schools nationwide.
How Global Dignity Works
As part of the French for the Future Forum at the University of Ottawa on May 3rd 2013, I gave a workshop on NGOs and Global Dignity to try and get students to think about the concept of dignity.
I employed the essential activity of any successful workshop: breaking the students into groups of four or five to discuss who they were, which schools they were coming from, and what their interest in the global dignity workshop was – and what else they were passionate about.
Many of the students had insightful answers to questions they would discuss in their small groups, which ranged from what their definition of dignity was, to what global citizenship was, to how they wanted to get more involved in action items, such as leading a gender studies group in their school. Students connected deeply by sharing stories of travels abroad; in doing so, they felt they could communicate with people of different cultures.
As a member of the Youth Advisory Group to the Canadian Commission to UNESCO, there is a definite link between large NGOs, like the United Nations or UNESCO, and the values of a smaller NGO like Global Dignity.
Why we Need Global Dignity
As you can tell, GD is a great tool for schools across the country to engage students in discussions surrounding mutual respect, tolerance, kindness and compassion. Of our partners who have hosted a GD workshop, many have also found it can be a very useful and important tool for learning 21st century skills, such as global awareness, communication, and cross-cultural skills.
One key aspect of GD is its positive, inspiring messages. GD allows students to listen to motivational speakers as part of the GD programming that each individual school sets out. Students are even able to interact with one another by breaking into smaller groups and sharing stories about dignity. The idea is that when we have an understanding of dignity, we are more empowered and can contribute in meaningful ways to our societies.
Helping Everyone Find Their Dignity
This year, Global Dignity Canada has chosen the central theme: “The Many Faces of Dignity,” which will form the basis of our ongoing discussions about Dignity across the country. This allows for a wide interpretation by school leaders and facilitators regarding the angle of analysis. Whether it’s a focus on anti-bullying, cultures, ethnicities, human rights or other concepts, the theme is a platform for a diversity of dialogue.
It’s a been another busy week for Giovanna, who is organizing and carefully writing down each item for her next conference call, telling me about the next steps for outreach. Sitting in her office full of mementos from last year’s Global Dignity Day activities, she patiently provides me with guidance regarding the best way to sort out some of our excel sheets, and coordinating translations of our documents.
One can tell that she is passionate about GD, and she tells me with a genuine smile, “It’s been a privilege to work with such a dedicated group of individuals and I look forward to seeing where 2013 takes us”.
Ready to Help Out?
We at Global Dignity Day Canada are getting ready for October 16th 2013. If you or your school is interested, we invite you to register as part of this terrific movement to inspire thousands of youth in Canada and all over the world.