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Kailash Satyarthi Inspires Dreams at NTHU
On January 16 Kailash Satyarthi, winner of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, gave a lecture, “My Life Story and Dream” at the international conference center, NTHU. Mr. Satyarthi pointed out that everyone was once a child and there is a child that lives on in each person’s heart. He then exhorted the audience to preserve that sense of inner innocence and apply it to learning and speaking out against child labor.
 
In his lecture he pointed out that a nation’s youth are its energy, future, and source of glory. He then stated that despite our limitations to resist negative external influences, as long as we have a dream and the will to engage in good actions, then we will become someone who make history rather than merely reading or writing about it.
 
The lecture was preceded by two welcoming addresses. In the first address Nobel laureate and NTHU alumnus Yuan T. Lee emphasized the importance of social justice and being willing to stand up for what is right. He also expressed his admiration for Satyarthi’s courage and perseverance in carrying out his noble mission. In the second address Sophie Chang, the director of the TSMC Volunteer Society, lauded Satyarthi’s dedication to child welfare and exhorted young people to apply the same spirit of sacrifice and compassion to plant the seeds of wisdom and happiness.
 
Satyarthi stated, “We are all happy and fortunate to be sitting in this beautiful hall. You have dreams, you have aspirations, and your parents had dreams and aspirations for you. . . . But today while I am talking to you, millions of children—millions—are trapped in child slavery . . . producing shoes, which you may be wearing; making clothes, that you may be wearing. You may have eaten a chocolate today, but you don’t know how many children, hundreds or thousands, are engaged in that industry in the Ivory Coast and Ghana, at the cost of their liberty, childhood, and future.”
 
Recalling how he was inspired to become an activist, Satyarthi stated that on his very first day of school he saw a boy outside the classroom working as a cobbler. He asked the teacher why the boy wasn’t attending class, and the teacher replied that he was from a poor family and had to work and earn money. He later asked the boy’s father the same question, and was told that none of the children in their caste went to school. Taken aback, Satyarthi wished that the boy could somehow become his classmate. That was the beginning of his lifelong career as a human rights advocate.
 
Satyarthi went on to recount how during a trip to a remote village in Ivory Coast he noticed that many children had injured hands and feet. Upon inquiring further, he discovered that this was the result of picking coco beans for making chocolate. He was even more surprised to find out that these children had never actually tasted chocolate before, and didn’t even know what coco beans are used for. On another occasion his work took him to a workshop in Pakistan where children were employed stitching soccer balls. He asked them, “What is your dream?” After some coaxing they finally answered, “to play with a soccer ball; to really kick the ball with my foot.”
 
As Satyarthi puts it, “all the children in the world are our children.” Yet many of these children are spending their childhood working in factories. Although few people realize it, in today’s globalized economy many of us are actually the consumers of products produced by children working under dangerous and highly exploitative conditions.
 
The closing address was given by Chung-Kwang Tien, the director of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Center (TECC) in India. Tien said he was grateful that Satyarthi chose to make Taiwan his second overseas trip since receiving the Nobel Prize, especially since he currently has some 11,000 invitations to choose from. He also stated that India is very fortunate to have such a courageous and inspiring champion of children’s rights, and that due to his efforts the world is a better place. Tien concluded by quoting Satyarthi: “the Nobel prize means a lot but it is a comma in my life. My full stop will come only when I see child labor vanishes from the face of the earch.”
 
After completing his lecture Satyarthi was presented with a scroll with the NTHU school motto: Self-discipline and social commitment. President Hocheng expressed his admiration for Satyarthi’s selfless and untiring efforts to promote social justice, and said that through his lifelong dedication to protecting the human rights of children, Satyarthi is truly the embodiment of our school motto.
 
President Hong Hocheng presenting Mr. Kailash Satyarthi with the NTHU school motto in calligraphic script.

President Hong Hocheng presenting Mr. Kailash Satyarthi with the NTHU school motto in calligraphic script.

From right to left: Chung-Kwang Tien, Mrs. Tien, Sophie Chang (director of the TSMC Volunteer Society), Mr. Kailash Satyarthi, Mrs. Satyarthi, President Hong Hocheng, Academician Yuan T. Lee, Ong Wen-Chyi (chairperson of Chunghwa Post), and Ms. Banu Prakash (Deputy Director General of the India-Taipei Association).

From right to left: Chung-Kwang Tien, Mrs. Tien, Sophie Chang (director of the TSMC Volunteer Society), Mr. Kailash Satyarthi, Mrs. Satyarthi, President Hong Hocheng, Academician Yuan T. Lee, Ong Wen-Chyi (chairperson of Chunghwa Post), and Ms. Banu Prakash (Deputy Director General of the India-Taipei Association).

Mr. and Mrs. Satyarthi with members of NTHU’s International Volunteer Society and Ms. Sophie Chang, .

Mr. and Mrs. Satyarthi with members of NTHU’s International Volunteer Society and Ms. Sophie Chang, .

 

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