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Teens Get a History Lesson From History Makers

High school student Manal Saleh introduces Mikhail Gorbachev at the 12th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, in Chicago
High school student Manal Saleh introduces Mikhail Gorbachev at the 12th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, in Chicago

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This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

Students at some high schools in Chicago, Illinois, recently had some famous visitors. Among them were Jimmy Carter, the former American president, and Mikhail Gorbachev, the last president of the Soviet Union. Other speakers included former South African president F.W. de Klerk and Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian human rights activist.

They were all in Chicago for an event in late April, the 12th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates.

The students prepared for the visits by working on a human rights curriculum called "Speak Truth to Power." The materials come from the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.

Manal Saleh got to introduce Mikhail Gorbachev at her school, the Frederick Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center in Chicago. Manal is one of the top students graduating this year. She will be attending Northwestern University in Illinois on a scholarship for low-income students.

Manal had not yet been born when Mr. Gorbachev became a Nobel laureate. He won the Peace Prize in nineteen ninety for helping to end the Cold War and working for nuclear disarmament.

Manal also got to introduce Mr. Gorbachev at the World Summit, where he joined the other laureates.

MANAL SALEH: "We hear about them and we see them in documentaries. But to have them in front of us in the flesh makes it seem so much more real. President Gorbachev, who came from nothing and changed the world, and he's standing in front of me in the flesh. And it makes me appreciate the value of that all the more."

Mr. Gorbachev, through a translator, said that he hopes more young people will work against global problems like poverty and unemployment.

MIKHAIL GORBACHEV: "Of course, there are things that are happening among the youth that concern us. But young people have to be given a chance to take a stand, to take a position in this world. [Applause]"

At Von Steuben, he talked about his nuclear arms negotiations with President Ronald Reagan in the late nineteen eighties. He also talked about growing up in a small Russian village and studying law at Moscow University. And he talked about the need for international cooperation, a theme of the World Summit.

Students at Lincoln Park High School in Chicago heard from Muhammad Yunus. He won the two thousand six Peace Prize for his work with microcredit for social and economic development. Mr. Yunus said he used his own money to make the first loan, about twenty-seven dollars to women selling baskets in a market in Bangladesh.

And that's the VOA Special English Education Report. You can watch a video of high school student Manal Saleh and the Nobel laureates in Chicago at I'm Jim Tedder.


Contributing: Kane Farabaugh and Jerilyn Watson