On Friday August 19, the world celebrated World Humanitarian Day together through the theme of ‘One Humanity.’ Global Citizen celebrated by opening a portal to refugee camps in the Middle East and Africa. This event showed that communities that seem worlds away from each other can connect and learn together. Ambassadors and representatives from countries such as Ireland and Liechtenstein, the Senator for New York’s office, and the Education Cannot Wait Secretariat #showedup in attendance.

They joined students from the South Bronx and refugee camps in Jordan and Kenya as well as Global Citizen’s friends and supporters from The Malala Fund, IIE, Blue Rose Compass, Film Aid, UNICEF and more. All of these diverse groups connected via Skype, for an impactful and education-filled conversation!

Though World Humanitarian Day has passed, the importance of breaking down the borders and connecting classrooms globally carries on. If you missed the event at the flagship Microsoft Store in New York you can follow the event below from World Humanitarian Day and experience all the heartwarming moments and lessons we learned:

Image: Madison McCormick

9:30 a.m.: Middle school and high school students from the South Bronx woke up early during their summer break to head down to the flagship Microsoft store. The students enjoyed the photo booth and interacted with Razia Jan, a champion for education and the founder of Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation, which created the first school that provides free education to 350 girls in Afghanistan.

Read More: Meet Razia, the Woman Who Started a School in One of the Worst Places to Be a Girl

Image: Madison McCormick

10:00 a.m.: The students in New York took their seats and were warmly welcomed by Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi, who gave remarks on the importance of education in transforming lives.

Image: Madison McCormick

10:15 a.m.: We went live! Eager students from the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan were the first to join us. We started with introductions and exchanged questions like, ‘‘What is your favorite color?’ ‘Where are you originally from?’

After saying it would be his first time back to school after a while, one student in Jordan asked the South Bronx students for advice on the upcoming school year.

Image: Madison McCormickImage: Madison McCormick

Image: Madison McCormick

11:00 a.m.: Next, students from the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya dialed in with bright smiles.  They asked Ambassador Mawe from Ireland whether or not he had experienced war in his country. This moment in particular was exceptional as Ambassador Mawe warmly explained some of the civil war conflict in Ireland and then brought the conversation to a discussion of peace and conflict resolution.

Then two students on opposite sides of the world connected when Kevin from in the South Bronx met Kevin in Kakuma camp and they shared a ‘bromance’ moment about their common name, with laughter all around at the coincidence.

Image: Madison McCormickImage: Madison McCormick

11:30 a.m.: As the conversations between Jordan, Kenya, and New York came to an end, we had a very special guest help us end on a cheerful note: Grover from Sesame Street! Watch this video to join Grover in cheering on the Olympic Team Refugees!

The event left students open and interested in making more global connections. 11 year old Hawa, whose family migrated to New York, asked if she and her friends could hold a Skype link-up and check in on the students they met over Skype as well as meet more every year. Education does not just help one person. The best form of education fosters understanding, acceptance, and hope between people around the world —  creating ‘One Humanity’ for all.

Image: Madison McCormick

​Overall, the day reminded us that education in emergencies needs to be supported. Global Citizen is calling for renewed global support of the Education Cannot Wait Fund ahead of the United Nations General Assembly in September. This will be the second significant opportunity for world leaders to make key pledges toward the fund since its initial launch in May at the World Humanitarian Summit.

Read More: Connecting Classrooms 5,000 Miles Away  


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Global Citizen Connects Students, Honors 'One Humanity' on World Humanitarian Day

By Madison McCormick