A weekend with students

So there you have it, Student Conference over for another year. And well, what can I say? It was a blast.It was one of those times when you remember why you belong to Amnesty International.Firstly there was the unrepentant enthusiasm oozing into every corner. Here were two hundred students from across the UK and beyond – Kelley’s nine-hour Megabus journey from Strathclyde only topped by the students who had flown in from Vienna and Barcelona especially – all descending on Reading University. That on it’s own is enough to reinvigorate everyone. But then there were the speakers.  There was the acclaimed Alan Johnston revealing what human rights meant to him; director of the Quilliam Foundation, Maajid Nawaz, providing a fascinating insight into Islamic fundamentalism; the personal experiences of ex-Amnesty International prisoner of conscience and Indonesian student activist Ignatius Mahendra Kusuma Wardhana – Mahendra to you and me; and all headlined by comedian and political activist Mark Thomas.On a media level, I was chuffed that every speaker agreed to attend a packed press conference after each session. It gave the students a chance to experience what a real press conference is like, and also the opportunity for a number of truly rare exclusive interviews. So those students of you reading this keep an eye on your student papers – they’ve got no excuse not to mention Amnesty now!Anyway, back to Mark Thomas He was simply awesome. This was his first ever after-dinner speech and he did not disappoint. He left the audience enthralled and in stitches with his tales of political activism. And to digress a little, it’s also great to know that he’s taking his kid down to watch the mighty AFC Wimbledon – who are in important FA Cup action tonight against Wycombe live on Setanta.Internally, yes, it was an awful lot of work and praise has to go to the superhuman efforts of Amnesty’s Education and Students Team, and as this is my blog so I’m going to name-check a couple of them – Verity Coyle and Anna Musgrave. The two of them were at the centre of everything and I hope that firstly they had the chance to enjoy a little bit of the weekend, and secondly that they can at last relax and put their feet up. Well done!!

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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