International ambassadors, diplomats, politicians, and brilliant minds gathered at the Nobel Museum in Stockholm on Monday to mingle with students, parents, and the “Nobel laureates of the future” from Stockholm International School (SIS).
“You might ask yourselves, why this celebration now, and why in this setting? We wanted to combine the celebration of International Education Week, the last week of November, with Nobel week, as a time when the greatest achievements of human intellect and leadership are being celebrated,” said SIS Director Marta Medved Krajnovic as she welcomed guests to the museum.
Stockholm International School, which offers a truly international education for preschool through grade 12, is home to students from more than 60 countries.
The school was a fitting host: the aim of the evening was to honour the international nature of the Nobel Prizes, and the international learning and global mind-set that can lead to a better world for all.
Gustav Källstrand, Senior Curator at the Nobel Museum, pointed out that Alfred Nobel himself was a “global citizen” who spoke six languages and spent much of his life travelling.
“If you look up at the ceiling, we have 900 flags hanging, representing all the Nobel prizes and their global distribution,” he pointed out.
“A few years ago at the awards ceremony, everyone receiving an award was a dual citizen – or triple citizen. So Nobel laureates are also truly global citizens.”
Students from SIS then treated attendees to a poetry reading in 13 different languages, highlighting the diversity found in the school community and sharing their vision of the future.
“I see a world where people feel safe,” 11th-grade student Elle recited in English. “A world where no one is waif, and people do not feel the need to chafe. I see a world where we all are fed, a world where no one needs a bed or a roof over their head.”
“I want to see a world where we all are equal. In order to see that world, we must stand together and open our senses,” fellow 11th graders Sofia said in Swedish.
Together the diverse students also read in Arabic, Croatian, French, Danish, German, Kiswahili, Malay, Romanian, Spanish, Swedish sign language, and Ukrainian.
Meanwhile, ninth-grade drama students from the school wandered the museum, clad as Nobel laureates of the past, entertaining guests with their portrayals.
But the main highlight of the evening was perhaps the two speakers: Pedrag Petrovic and Dona Hariri.
Neuroscientists and psychiatrist Predrag Petrovic enlightened guests with a lecture about “Decisions, Leadership, and the Brain”, providing insight into how and why emotional systems affect our behaviour and leadership abilities.
The lecture also touched on how so-called “executive abilities” and meta-cognition can predict how skilled a decision-maker an individual really is.
Lawyer Dona Hariri also warmed hearts and inspired minds with her personal tale and presentation about her work as founder of Counsellors without Borders – a new foundation which gives free legal advice to refugees in Stockholm's Central Station.
“Everyone has the right to know their rights,” she proclaimed.
Hariri, a professional lawyer who also spends much of her time giving free legal advice to residents of Stockholm's relatively impoverished suburb of Husby, said she came straight to the event from the city's central station, where she had been welcoming refugees.
Hariri also hosts the Swedish TV show Justitia, a programme about simplifying the law for children and young people. Hariri argued that learning about legal rights should be a central part of school education. "Children are usually aware of their rights, but not their obligations," she added.
The speakers' inspiring words, combined with the event's international flavour were a perfect kick-off for Nobel Week when Sweden finds itself squarely in the global spotlight, SIS Director Medved Krajnovic added.
“We want to celebrate the international community we belong to, but also to honour our host country, Sweden.”
This article was produced by The Local in partnership with Stockholm International School.