Palestinian Teacher
A Palestinian teacher who grew up in a refugee camp was awarded a $1 million global teacher prize in recognition of her dedication to helping children who had been exposed to violence.

Hanan Al Hroub accepted the Global Teacher Prize at a ceremony in Dubai on March 13. Pope Francis announced the winner to the crowd through a video conference, saying that teachers are “the builders of peace and unity.”

“I am proud to be a Palestinian female teacher standing on this stage,” she said while accepting the award, according to the BBC.

Hroub grew up witnessing acts of violence in the Palestinian refugee camp in Bethlehem and later became a teacher after her children became traumatized from being shot at while traveling home from school.

By encouraging play and rewarding positive behaviors, Hroub has facilitated a decline in violent behavior among her students.

“I tell all the teachers, whether they are Palestinian or around the world: ‘Our job is humane, its goals are noble. We must teach our children that our only weapon is knowledge and education,’” Hroub said in an interview with CNN after receiving the award.

In his speech, the Pope praised Hroub’s methods in teaching children to avoid violence, according to BuzzFeed. “A child has the right to play,” he said. “Part of the education is to teach children how to play, because you learn how to be social through the games and you learn the joy of life.”

The Global Teacher Prize is granted annually to teachers that have made outstanding contributions to the profession. The award was created by the Varkley Foundation, a non-profit organization that aims to “improve the standards of education for underprivileged children throughout the world.”

A panel of educators, entrepreneurs, public officials, scientists and others are responsible for choosing the winner.

Many celebrities, including actors Salma Hayek and Matthew McConaughey, as well as many politicians including Vice President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair attended the ceremony where Hroub received her award.

“I support the Global Teacher Prize. Those that teach — devoting their talents and time to nurturing the talents of others — deserve to be respected and celebrated,” Kevin Spacey said in a statement on the Global Teacher Prize website.

Violence claims the lives of nearly 1.4 million people across the globe each year, according to the World Health Organization. Formal education can help prevent violence by giving children the opportunity to develop crucial social skills, problem-solving strategies, critical-thinking and communication skills.

“Based on this truth, the role of education starts, the teacher’s responsibility starts also as an educator, an artist, creating an environment and a context that frees children from violence, frees their imagination and embodies it in forms of dialogue, love and beauty,” Hroub said.

Lauren Lewis


An oft heard phrase, some cynics go as far as to call the title of this piece, which is also a famous quote, corny, utopian  or unrealistic. Yet the individual who said it would be defined by the antithesis of the spirit behind those words. As it stands, Mahatma Ghandi is remembered as the father of a nation, much like the way that we refer to our founding fathers: Thomas Jefferson, Benajmin Franklin and James Madison to name a few.

Gandhi is certainly one of those historic figures of the past that a great many people have at least heard of. Especially concerning his bravery and courage to stand up to an empire, beginning just with himself. His choices and principles inspired a people to rise up against authority. Few have truly come to understand how, and maybe even more importantly, why he choose to do what he did.

Mahatma Gandhi is, for the most part, unanimously regarded as the leader and motivational spearhead of the Indian Independence Movement that overthrew the British empire. Almost exclusively using his rights of civil disobedience, always grounded in non violence, he managed to topple one of the largest and most sophisticated military conquerors in history.

Born on October 2, 1869, to a prominent father in the local empirical government, and to a mother whom was the fourth wife of the former. At the age of 14, as was customary, he wed by an arranged marriage, and by 15 had his first child that died soon after birth.

In his early adulthood he moved to South Africa for a job prospect. What he experienced, through the Apartheid segregation system, profoundly affected him. Soon he began learning civil disobedience tactics, and became a social activist. In 1915 he returned to India, equipped with the knowledge and skills he would employ and later became revered for.

It was not long before Gandhi became deeply involved with the independence movement. Through his steadfast persistence in following the Sacred Male and Sacred Female behaviors, he became the figurehead and emotional leader of the campaign.

The Salt March is one of his hall mark actions, when he lead a walk through rural India, encouraging civil disobedience and non-compliance to the British Empire imposed salt tax. Though he was arrested many times during the action, it is considered a pivotal point in his rise to prominence amongst the Indian people.

Babo as the Indian people affectionately call him, achieved one of his major goals on August 15, 1947. That is to say, on this day, India became independent from the ruling British empire.

On January 30, 1948, Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated.

His legacy of forgiveness, non-violence in the face of overwhelming odds and his persistence have left a deep impression of the conscience of the world. We end this piece as we started. The brevity and truth behind his words cannot be improved upon.

“An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.”
– Mahatma Ghandi

Tyler Shafsky

Sources: Times of India, MensXP, PBS
Photo: Daily Photostream

Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American hero and civil rights activist.  His teachings are still an inspiration today and his influence is immortalized in a national holiday, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Below are some interesting facts about this great leader:

1. At 35 years old, Martin Luther King, Jr. was the youngest man to have ever received the Nobel peace prize. Currently Tawakkol Karman of Yemen is the youngest winner, at 32.

2. Dr. King worked for Economic Equality, not just civil rights. After the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, Dr. King began the Chicago campaign. It targeted the economic reality of segregation and focused attention on the plight of the urban poor in the north.

3. Martin Luther King, Jr. improvised entire parts of the “I Have a Dream” speech, including the famous “dream” passage. It was edited right up to the moment Dr. King began speaking.

4. Dr. King is the only non-president to have national holiday dedicated in his honor and also the only non-president memorialized on Washington D.C.’s Great Mall.

5. In 1963, Dr. King was named Time Magazine’s Man of the Year. King garnered a lot of attention that year for leading the March on Washington and delivering his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

6. While at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, Dr. King was elected president of his senior class, which was predominately white.

7. His Seminary Professor gave him a C+ in a Public speaking course! King was renowned for his great public oration, but even he didn’t master the skill over night.

8. Many Civil Rights Activists did not support the 1963 “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.” Some leaders, such as Malcolm X and Storm Thurmond, held different views on the civil rights movements and, at times, disagreed with Dr. King’s approach.

9. Martin Luther King made an impact even while in jail. After being detained for defying an injunction against protests in Birmingham, Dr. King wrote his “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” It detailed reasons for acting to change civil rights in Birmingham and around the country and became a monument of the Civil Rights Movement.

10. Mahatma Gandhi and the principle of non-violent action heavily influenced Dr. King. King was introduced to the ideology while at a lecture given in Philadelphia by the president of Howard University.

Martin Luther King, Jr. firmly believed that everyone, regardless of their background, should receive equal treatment under the law and have an opportunity to live, as well as receive education and work without being discriminated against.  This is a message we must remain committed to in our fight against the global inequality that characterizes poverty in the world today.

– Martin Levy

Photo: Richton Park Library
Constitution Center: Five Facts about Martin Luther King, JrThe King Center, BBC,

Why I Chose the Gun, Peter van Uhm

“When I look around, I see people who want to make a contribution, I see people who want to make a better world, by doing ground-breaking scientific work, by creating impressive works of art, by writing critical articles or inspiring books, by starting up sustainable businesses. All of you have chosen your own instruments to fulfil this mission of creating a better world….I chose this instrument. I chose the gun.” – Peter van Uhm

The idea of guns being used as a tool for peace is counter-intuitive. In his talk, Uhm explains how weapons can be used not as a source of violence, but as a protective measure against injustice. It is a talk that is full of controversial ideas, and worth listening to and thinking about. In a world where it is overly idealistic to imagine that it is possible to develop a blanket ability to avoid all conflict, Uhm’s outlook is one that does not immediately sit well with our gut, but it all the more important to listen to because of it.


Fighting with Non-Violence, Scilla Elworthy

“The training of troops has to change. And I think there are signs that it is beginning to change. The British military have always been much better at this. But there is one magnificent example for them to take their cue from, and that’s a brilliant U.S. lieutenant colonel called Chris Hughes. And he was leading his men down the streets of Najaf — in Iraq actually — and suddenly people were pouring out of the houses on either side of the road,screaming, yelling, furiously angry, and surrounded these very young troops who were completely terrified, didn’t know what was going on, couldn’t speak Arabic. And Chris Hughes strode into the middle of the throng with his weapon above his head, pointing at the ground, and he said, “Kneel.” And these huge soldiers with their backpacks and their body armor, wobbled to the ground. And complete silence fell. And after about two minutes,everybody moved aside and went home.” – Scilla Elworthy

Elworthy’s talk stands in stark contrast to Uhm’s. Speaking through her personal experience, and the histories of famous non-violent leaders like Mandela and Suu Kyi, Elworthy explores the alternative to military power. Elworthy has no illusions about the difficulty of non-violent reactions; it goes against our instincts and she speaks about the necessity of developing our ability to understand before we react. A relatively short but powerful talk, Elworthy manages to show us how hard and how important it is to rethink how we fight our battles.


Ending Hunger Now, Josette Sheeran

“I believe we’re living at a time in human historywhere it’s just simply unacceptable that children wake up and don’t know where to find a cup of food. Not only that, transforming hunger is an opportunity, but I think we have to change our mindsets. I am so honored to be here with some of the world’s top innovators and thinkers. And I would like you to join with all of humanity to draw a line in the sand and say, “No more. No more are we going to accept this.” And we want to tell our grandchildrenthat there was a terrible time in history where up to a third of the children had brains and bodies that were stunted, but that exists no more.” – Josette Sheeran

Often, people think of the world’s greatest crises as enormous, separate challenges. World peace as separate from world hunger, poverty and women’s rights and education all distinct entities with unique challenges. The truth is they are all connected, feeding into each other. The presence of one almost inevitably creates breeding grounds for the others. Sheeran, head of the UN World Food Programme, walks us through the practicalities of ending hunger, and the potential ramifications of doing so. Though it sounds like a huge project, Sheeran uses real-life examples to show how innovative thinking and concerted effort can lead to real, large-scale change. Sheeran’s passion and pragmatism make ending hunger seem infinitely achievable.


Why To Believe in Others, Viktor Frankl

“If you don’t recognise a young man’s will to meaning, man’s search for meaning you make him worse. You make him dull, you make him frustrated, you still add and contribute to his frustration. While, if you presuppose in this man, in this so called criminal or juvenile delinquent or drug abuser, or so forth, there must be a – what do you call it – a spark, a spark of search for meaning. Let’s recognize this…let’s presuppose it and then you will elicit it from him and you will make him become what he in principle is capable of becoming.” – Viktor Frankl

Better spoken than summarized, holocaust survivor and psychologist Viktor Frankl explains, in four humorous and poignant minutes, why to believe in others.

– Farahnaz Mohammed