Due to the issues of global and local significance affecting both Aurora and UWC in 2020, this year’s competition involved additional challenges and changes. We are therefore all the more delighted to report on the final three project presentations and announce the winning team: Beehive Divide from UWC East Africa. The team will be awarded with a grant of $4000 to take the next steps in their project’s development.

This year, students from UWC East Africa, UWC Mahindra College and UWC South East Asia dialed in remotely to present their projects at the 2020 Aurora Dialogues Online event titled “Responding to Change: New Horizons in Education” to a combined Facebook and Zoom audience of more than 3,200 people, and a jury of notable and experienced humanitarians, including Lord Ara Darzi, Chair of the Aurora Prize Selection Committee; Anna Afeyan, Co-Founder of the Noubar & Anna Afeyan Foundation; Marguerite Barankitse, 2016 Aurora Prize Laureate, Sanaya Bharucha, Director for Community Impact and Student Leadership at Teach For All, and Dr. Musimbi Kanyoro, Chair of UWC International.

Veronika Zonabend, co-founder of the RVVZ Family Foundation and Founding Partner and Chair of the Board of Governors of UWC Dilijan College in Armenia, thanked the finalists, the jury, and the panelists in her welcoming remarks, saying: “The world is at a complex crossroads – clashes of ideas, cultures, values have taken central stage globally and have threatened peaceful and sustainable humanitarian, ecological, and economic development. I believe that education is the most effective route to sustainable development. <…> Today, we’re celebrating the UWC education and the ideas of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative, which are closely aligned.

The students conveyed their projects with dedication, creativity and an in-depth understanding of each of their identified humanitarian concerns, convincing the jury members to agree that “these are clearly young people who can change our world.

The humanitarian concerns addressed were as far-reaching as the ingenuity that fueled the implementation of the student projects. The UWC East Africa team presented their solution to protect the crops of villagers in Sanya Hoyee, Tanzania from dangerous elephant raids in a way that did not put the endangered species at risk by building a chili and beehive fence that would then have the added effect of providing an additional source of income. The UWC Mahindra College team concentrated on healthcare, presenting their diagnostic and preventative approaches to empowering people in rural Mulshi-Taluka to make independent and informed decisions about their health, and by subsidizing and increasing the availability of medical check-ups. For UWC South East Asia, the focus was on Foreign Domestic Workers in Singapore, who they aim to help empower by making information about their rights more readily available, giving them a platform to share their stories and helping the general public to empathize with their struggle.

While the jury had the difficult task of selecting the winning team, the audience explored the key role education must play in empowering the next generation of humanitarians – just like the Young Aurora finalists – to help tackle future crises around the world, with a panel of four speakers, thinkers and doers from various different areas in the field of education, including Julia Middleton,

Founder and Innovation Officer of Common Purpose UK; Chris Bradford, Co-founder and CEO of African Leadership Academy; Priyanka Mahat, UWC Dilijan alumna, and Sam Potolicchio, Founder and President of the Preparing Global Leaders Forum (PGLF) and Leadership Professor at Georgetown University.

The discussion ended with a powerful moment when the moderator, Andrew Nalani (UWC-USA, 2010-2012; founder of the African Youth Leadership Experience) shared this important quote: “In the course of history, there comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness, to reach a higher moral ground. A time when we have to shed our fear and give hope to each other. That time is now.” – Wangari Maathai, Kenyan educator, environmental activist and 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Winner

Sanaya Bharucha, Director for Community Impact and Student Leadership at Teach For All and a member of the jury, announced the winner of Young Aurora 2020. She praised them for coming up with such a brilliant and sustainable idea: “When you think of this solution, it seems so wonderfully obvious, like it would so naturally work, and we wonder why it hasn’t reached widespread traction before. We also really appreciated how your project was really locally rooted. It took into consideration the constraints of your environment, of what the villages are facing, of the original man-animal conflict, and found a beautiful balance between the two without prioritizing one over the other.”

Once more, we extend the most heartfelt congratulations to all three finalist teams, and a special well done to the UWC East Africa’s Beehive Divide team for securing the funding to take the next big steps towards making your project a reality and for helping to transform the wellbeing of both the people and elephants of Sanya Hoyee village, enabling them to live peacefully side by side.