Youth Symposium 2007

Bridges to Hope and Understanding: Exploring Truth and Reconciliation

Wheelock Youth Symposium 2007

On October 29, 2007 Nobel Peace Prize recipient and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu was welcomed by the Wheelock College community—along with students from Boston Public Schools and public officials—as part of a two-day event focused on reconciliation and unity. This visit by the Archbishop and its corresponding Youth Symposium hosted by the College could not have come at a more crucial moment for the city of Boston.

Boston faced a turbulent time, with the homicide rate at an 11-year high—an increase of 44 percent from the previous year. It was clear that the city had an escalating problem, yet the answers to solving these issues were complex and varied. Many members of the Boston community were sounding a call for action in order to prevent and reduce this rise in crime.

Wheelock College is proud to have sponsored this visit with the Archbishop, and in the spirit of building strong community connections, hosting an opportunity to address the problems that threaten the safety and well being of our neighborhoods and families.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu Introduces Concept of "Ubuntu"

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has earned every major humanitarian award for speaking out against and working to overcome injustice and inequality wherever he encounters them. He is guided by his faith and by the concept of "ubuntu"—the recognition of human interdependence and connectedness that affirms, "I need you to be all of who you are in order for me to be all that I am." From Bloemfontein to Boston, truth, reconciliation and restorative justice must continually offset anger, violence and revenge if we are all to live in a just, equitable and peaceful world. (See Archbishop Tutu's biography.)

Through a youth symposium, Bridges to Hope and Understanding: Exploring Truth and Reconciliation: A Conversation with the Youth of Boston, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, the youth of Boston, public officials and the Wheelock community came together to explore the meaning of truth, reconciliation, retribution, forgiveness and ubuntu, and their impact on the fabric of our lives. Other guest speakers included Governor Deval Patrick, former WBZ-TV news anchor the Rev. Liz Walker, Dr. Reverend Ray Hammond and the Hon. Richard Goldstone.

Event Featured Governor Deval Patrick and News Anchor Liz Walker

During the 90-minute symposium the Paige Academy Drummers and the Renaissance Charter School Choir performed, Archbishop Tutu, introduced by Patrick and Walker, delivered an address and participants from different Boston schools held a panel discussion.

The focus of the discussion was personal interpretations of  truth and reconciliation, the impact of those concepts on individuals and communities and what needs to be accomplished to bridge the gap between where we are today and where we want to be as a community.

In addition to the symposium, Wheelock College conducted a special convocation where they conferred Archbishop Tutu with an Honorary Doctorate degree to honor his contributions to achieve peace, equality and education for all.

Wheelock College would like to acknowledge Facing History and Ourselves for preparing students and teachers in the study of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Process and exploring the issues of violence and reconciliation in their own community.

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