The Athens Democracy Forum was organized by the New York Times in Athens, Greece from 13th-15th September, 2017. The Global Liberal Arts Alliance (GLAA) was the education partner for this prestigious forum. The GLAA selected a 23-member student delegation team out of its 29 institute member alliance. Among the 23 students, were two FLAME University undergraduate students, Anahita Sachdev and Saumya Sampat.
This forum gave students an opportunity to interact and learn from individuals having culturally diverse backgrounds but with similar interests. Coming from GLAA member institutes provided commonality in thought processes.
Before the forum officially began, the delegation was encouraged to prepare for the same with the help of presentations and detailed discussions in small groups. These groups were facilitated brilliantly by Professor Klidas from the host college, The American College of Greece, as well as by Mr.Richard Detweiler and Dr. Simon Gray from the GLAA, all of whom mentored the students wonderfully throughout the experience. Emphasizing upon the importance of being confident yet critical, the mentors urged students to think and act like leaders of the future, ensuring that they made the most of this unique opportunity. Not only did the students hear accomplished personalities as they addressed pressing global issues, but they also voiced some of their own opinions by raising questions and conversing during the informal sessions. The presentations delivered by renowned cartoonist Mr. Patrick Chappatte, writerDavid Van Reybouck and Cognitive Scientist Dr. Philip Fernbach had a lasting impact on the audience. The discussions gave many insights into what fundamentally makes democracy an attractive governmental model.
Students from various cultures ranging from Burkina Faso to Bulgaria to Japan were present. The students also immersed themselves into the culture of the host country, with Athens being the historical centre of much philosophical and scientific discourse. The sites visited included the Parthenon and Erechtheum at the Acropolis, the modern Acropolis Museum, the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion, Aristotle’s Lyceum and the Hellenic Parliament, amongst others.
This forum was a shining example of how students can easily break entrenched barriers of region and ethnicity to work together constructively. This kind of an ‘international classroom’ is crucial for any global citizen to work towards achieving a brighter future for all of humanity. We, at FLAME University congratulate our students for this achievement and encourage other students to participate in more forums representing FLAME University globally.