Queen Rania, YGLs, and Jordanian students unite to advance Dignity principles

May 19, 2007

(Office of Her Majesty, Press Department – Amman) Recognizing that every human has the right to lead a dignified life begins with a conversation. That conversation took place amongst 100 Jordanian youth in an event called Dignity Day. The students joined Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah and members of the Young Global Leaders (YGLs) in a passionate and inspiring conversation about what it means to live a dignified life and how to treat each other in accordance with the principles of dignity.

The event brought together the three cofounders of the Dignity Day initiative, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon Magnus of Norway, Professor Pekka Himanen of the University of Art and Design in Helsinki, and Operation HOPE Founder and CEO John Hope Bryant, as they reunited with several other Jordanian and international YGLs.

Students from a number of different schools across the Kingdom came together at Al-Jubaiha Secondary School for Girls to partake in this special day. After a brief morning assembly they broke out into small groups, each lead by two YGLs, to perform the different exercises outlined in the Dignity Day curriculum.

Queen Rania briefly joined each session where she encouraged the students to tell her of their definitions of dignity, what they felt was necessary to lead a dignified life, and how they would go about passing on dignity to others. "It is a hard word to define, but we're more concerned about living with dignity than we are with the definition," said the Queen.

After hearing a number of different definitions, she told one of the classrooms, "I'd also like to share with you my definition of dignity… Dignity means that our lives matter – no matter where we live."

In another one of the sessions, Bryant told the Queen, "we came here to discuss dignity with the students, but these young people are teaching us about dignity!"

Some of the inspiring statements the youth said about dignity were:

"Dignity is not a word we can describe… it is a feeling."

"We are all born with dignity."

All of the students agreed that dignity has to do with respect and opening one's mind to other people's opinions and feelings. As part of their exercises they then debated statements like "it helps to be educated to be dignified" and "criminals deserve dignity."

When asked by the Queen to describe someone who they've met who lives a dignified life, most of the students described their teachers. They also talked about the special role their parents have in passing on the principles of dignity.

Global Dignity, a partnership of the Forum of Young Global Leaders, is a paradigm shift in thinking about global challenges; creating a new language based on universal human communication to inspire solutions to world problems. Since its launch in 2005, YGLs have encouraged youth in Canada, Turkey, India and Switzerland to live a dignified life and to engage each other in frank conversations about the right to dignity. Although a YGL initiative, Crown Prince Haakon stressed to the youth that "today is not about the YGL organization… the message is that every one of you is a young global leader."

The mission of the Global Dignity is to implement worldwide the universal right of every human being to lead a dignified life. This shift creates a new language and a mindset to approach issues of poverty, peace, and progress.

Through the use of dialogue and an exchange of opinions, students learn how they can easily integrate some basic concepts into their everyday life to help promote dignity and encourage human rights.

In addition to best-selling author Rev. Rick Warren, Academy award winner actor Michael Douglas; peace activist and sports legend Muhammad Ali; and former NYSE CEO, Amy Butte, hundreds of other supporters have signed the Dignity Principles and become citizens of "Dignity Nation."

During the concluding assembly, YGL Emile Cubeisy said, "I learnt a lot more than what I meant to teach." All the YGLs agreed that the students who participated in Dignity Day were inspiring and exemplary leaders of Jordan.

"I've done Dignity Days all over the world… and had the chance to talk to kids all over the world, but I have never had the experience I've had here today," said Bryant, "This world is in beautiful dignified hands."

Before leaving the celebrations, Queen Rania told the students that "we all want to be treated with dignity and as a result we all have to respect others… remember that dignity comes in many forms, and it is a fundamental human right that every person deserves to have.

Her Majesty also noted how pleased she was to see the students come together from a variety of backgrounds and different schools across the Kingdom. "I think that it's great that they're all together because it gives them the chance to form new bonds and friendships," she said.

For more information see www.globaldignity.org