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Excerpts from 20th ESC farewell speech by participant Hayel Sinnoqrot

When the 20th edition of the GCSP's European Security Course came to a end, Hayel Sinnoqrot, one of the course participants, delivered a moving and reflective speech. Here are some excerpts.

Be it in the European Union or the GCSP, this community of the 20th European Security Course (ESC) has also aspired to be “united in diversity”. In beautiful, generous and neutral Switzerland, Geneva has been our home for the last eight weeks. Eight weeks of “intellectual happiness”, as one of my fellow participants said.

Fascinating. Look at you: eight weeks ago, you left loved ones at home in the conquest of knowledge, learning, experience and transformation. Visualise the time before you joined the GCSP: the visa applications, the complications, convincing your family (and supervisors) that it would be beneficial to be at the GCSP in Geneva for eight whole weeks. For some, it may have been filled with tears and excitement. For others, this is now your longest continuous stay away from family and home.

Geneva, 2 February 2016, at the GCSP: meeting total strangers from different countries, introducing yourself to the class. And the ESC ship started sailing...our talks, morning- and after-class-runs, debates, challenges, football, praising and cursing, laughter and tears, missing our loved ones and families, the group trips within Switzerland and around Europe, the ski weekend in the French Alps. Think about how you arrived here, how many times you were challenged. Think about this unique journey, the open, deep and diverse network we were provided with by the GCSP and by the love, patience and support of our families, friends and institutions. Think about the knowledge we gained, the expectations we exceeded, and the transformation we went through.

During the transformational journey of the ESC, we acquired or developed multi-dimensional skills, including:

  • Complex problem solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Creativity
  • People management
  • Coordinating with others
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Judgement and decision making
  • Negotiation
  • Cognitive flexibility
  • Leadership and listening

We became stronger by embracing the diversity we have.

Please allow me to share with you some of the quotes that were made note of during our ESC:

“Are there universal values?”
“Does the EU need a strategy?” “Is it really still a democratic institution?”
“Victory is complete only when your enemies decide to emulate you”
“Is frozen conflict better than frozen peace?”
“Who frames, wins”
“Non-action is provocative”
“To be good is not a policy”
“Should religion serve society or society serve religion?”
“You don't eat good governance”
“Any policy is only as good as its implementation”
“Viruses don't respect political borders or authority”

In an international environment, we represent 18 nationalities, with many cultures, religions, backgrounds, experiences. But we managed to respect and compromise for the good of the group/team. We found ways to build teams, our groups, and our community from zero. We learned from the GCSP and from each other, and worked efficiently. Today, every participant has the feeling that the time passed very quickly and that the 2 months were really short.
We are on a journey into the unknown. In today's information age of media, social media, cyber security, with the art of collecting data, selective processing and presenting, where soft power can make a change, and strong power can re-write history, you can help change policy and lead prosperity, and, remarkably, sometimes, a few words, simple actions or even a few mouse clicks is all it takes to start an avalanche.

Speaking of avalanches and melting icebergs, many melted here on these white boards. We are restlessly destroying our planet and exploiting its resources, reaching a peak of climate change. It is becoming an evident cause of insecurity, catastrophes, poverty, draught, flooding, epidemics, unemployment, collapse of industries, economies, countries and mass migration breaking all boarders. Yet we see rigid policies not adapting to rapidly changing situations.

We’re witnessing first-hand the inefficacy of rigid policies and procedures in the face of rapidly changing situations as refugees and other at-risk individuals have crashed against our shores in their bid to escape oppression and danger. The walls that were created have destroyed more than they’ve protected, feeding a dangerous system of corruption and opportunism willing to exploit the desperation of families. The realities and repercussions of this humanitarian crisis is a future that Europe will have to face, united.

Some believe violence is the option, without any concerns for human rights. But we believe that working together, standing by each other and finding just solutions will always be the way forward towards prosperity and true humanity. When you have doubts, the nature, mountains and fresh waters, this is where inspiration comes from. Serenity, peace… When we see this in Switzerland, we must believe everything is possible anywhere. And we'll do everything we can to have a look at our nature back home... this is where the substance comes from.
When I look at you, I see a powerful network of policy-makers and future nation-wide decision-makers. Nurture our network, invest in it, evolve it, challenge it, and support it to create global security and peace. The rewards of this alumni network and – I dare to say – family will be a lifetime adventure. We ended the 20th edition of the GCSP’s distinguished European Security Course, and are proud to be members of the alumni community, contributing to this network. We believe in this ESC community and the GCSP. The 20th ESC, like the EU, is forever “united in diversity”! But now comes the hard work; now, we'll start a transformational practice. Now, our responsibility and the real challenge is to implement what we have acquired! 

It’s daunting work, but with security policies and actions we'll make our homes, countries and the world secure and let our people, ones in need and refugees live in deserved safety, dignity and prosperity.

Take 10 seconds to look in the eyes of your neighbour... Say something grateful in your own language to them...

Thank you GCSP, thank you ESC for this lifetime adventure, community and transformation.