17 Jun 2013
On 17th June Barack Obama visited Belfast en route to the G8 summit and spoke to a full house in the Waterfront Hall, Belfast. Two–thirds of the audience were young people from Belfast schools, the world’s media were there.
Hannah Nelson, a 16 year old student from Methodist College, Belfast captivated the audience with her opening speech in which she asked for the focus to be on her age group and asked “What does it take to make peace permanent?”. She appealed for respect for others and the acceptance of differences, “take prejudice away from young people, build bridges, bring people together, value each other and take responsability” she appealed.
President Obama built on this speech and primarily addressed the young people in front of him. He offered affirmation, encouragement and hope. “Peace is a long journey, if you continue your path of peace it will be good for the whole world. You set an example for others. Hope is contagious, ultimately peace is not just about politics but about attitudes and empathy. Peace is harder than war, it’s constant fragility is part of its beauty, Don’t give up, remind us of the possibility of peace, again, and again, and again.I have confidence you will choose the path of peace”.
Inderjit Bhogal represented Corrymeela at the gathering.