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16th April 2013 Peace Prize to Teacher from Gaza

( 16th April 2013)
Peace Prize to Teacher from Gaza

Peace By the students of Bomlo Folk High School, Norway

Samira Srur received this year's peace prize award from the students at Bomlo Folk High School for her peacekeeping work as principal of The New Abraham Center for Languages, folk high school in Gaza, Palestine.
The modest educator and peacemaker came to Bomlo last Sunday and stayed at one of the student houses until Thursday, when she received the award and gave a speech about the situation between Palestine and Israel. Accompanying her was Mohsen El Ghazali, coordinator for the UN Development Programme in Gaza.

Learning each other's languages

The work Samira does is of the utmost importance. All weapons are lowered, no politician rants against another politician: what counts is the recognition that we are all people that want to live.

Samira talked for about an hour to a silent and totally attentive audience.
She is a charismatic and genuine person. She did us the honour of sharing her personal experiences and life's work with us.
Samira is a well-known figure both in Palestine and Israel, with eager supporters in both countries, though this has not made it easier for her.

Student Pernille Antonsen Guttormsgaard initiated the award ceremony with a speech where she said, among other things:

''After all our students agreed on extremism as the theme for this year's festival, we discovered the unique story of a folk high school located in Gaza, and a woman named Samira Srur. She has run her school for over twenty years, determined to continue through resistance, conflicts and war. Bilingual, Samira teaches Hebrew to Palestinians and Arabic to Israelis.''

Antonsen Guttormsgaard explained that Samira constantly underlines that she is politically neutral and only wants people to talk to each other. It is vital to her that her school not be used for political purposes in any way.
At this point in the ceremony, Samira was presented with a diploma of recognition, a graphic print designed by Norwegian artist Arild Ytri.

The student representative continued: ''We are truly honoured that Samira came all the way to Bomlo. It's a complicated process to get someone out of Gaza and all the way to Norway. But with the help of the NOSAG [Norwegian Support Committee for the Abraham Center in Gaza] represented by Bjarne Schirmer, the vice-chairman of NOSAG and previous leader of the MIFF [With Israel for Peace], who is with us today, it was possible ! Mr Schirmer expressed great gratitude to Samira for being here to accept the prize in person. After meeting Samira, we are a hundred times more thrilled than we already were, because of her inspiring personality.
Having now talked to Samira, we are very committed and feel that we have gotten a clearer perspective on things. The concept << peace, >> a vague and abstract term for us, has taken on new meaning. Talking with Samira has given us new insights into what peace means.''

Every war is a loss!

In her thank-you address, Samira thanked Bomlo folk high school deeply for the peace prize and emphasized that she was just a normal teacher. She started her speech this way:
''My name is Samira. I am an Arab, a Palestinian, a refugee, a Muslim and from Gaza.'' As far as Samira is concerned, there are no winners when it comes to war.

Under the picture of the group:

Peace prize winner with Frank Aarebrot and other speakers at the Peace Festival, students and the principal. From the left: Mohsen Ghazali, coordinator for UN Development Programme in Gaza, Hilde-Sofie Knutsen Vollset, Nina Soraa, Frank Aarebrot, professor of comparative politics and political science at the University of Bergen, peace prize winner Samira Srur, director of the New Abraham Center for Languages, Elisabeth Bakke, teacher of psychology and class teacher of the class which organized the Peace Festival, Pernille Antonsen Guttormsgaard, professor Morten Levin from NTNU (Natural and Technological University) in Trondheim, Maren Eilertsen, and Bjarne Schirmer. In front: Magne Groneng Flokenes, Bomlo Folk High School principal.
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