01 May 2016, 20:09
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George Clooney, The Aurora Prize And Hope In Armenia

Famous motivational speaker, coach and journalist Brian Rashid spoke about Aurora Prize, "Celebrating" the Armenian Genocide and things that deserve more attention than the red carpet...

 

"One time, a man aggressively bumped into my mother in a 7-Eleven. Then I got in his face. I am not a violent person, but seeing someone intentionally push my mom made my blood boil. This moment on one spring night in Florida was the only real experience I’ve had where I witnessed physical harm to someone I love.

One hundred and one years ago, 1.5 million Armenians were killed. Unlike the small bruise my mother may have received on her arm from this drunk middle-aged man at the gas station, Armenian sons saw their mothers murdered in front of their eyes. Mothers saw the same of their children, as did brothers, sisters, grandparents, and friends. If you were in Armenia in 1915, you were a victim of genocide. So what I’m about to tell you may seem strange.

I recently traveled to Yerevan, Armenia to celebrate the 101st anniversary of the Armenian genocide.

You are likely thinking, “What’s wrong with you. Who celebrates genocide?” I will explain in a moment. But first, a story about George Clooney.

George Clooney and cofounder Ruben Vardanyan congratulate Marguerite Barankitse as the first recipient of the Aurora Prize. 

I’ve always admired George Clooney. I grew up watching him. He was (and still is) my favorite movie star. But I also love that he uses his spotlight to do just that — shed light on issues while the rest of the world turns a blind eye. “Sometimes, I feel suffocated with the constant cameras that follow me around. Then I think, why can’t we turn those cameras to issues that can’t seem to get any media attention? Issues that are much more important than what suit I wore on the red carpet deserve attention,” Clooney said. I admired his perspective.

But what does this all have to do with celebrating the Armenian Genocide?

On April 24, 2016, 101 years after the atrocities that wiped 1.5 million lives from the planet, the first annual Aurora Prize for AwakeningHumanity was held in Armenia. On behalf of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to their saviors, the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity will be granted annually to an individual whose actions have had an exceptional impact on preserving human life and advancing humanitarian causes. The Selection Committee, including Mr. Clooney, consists of nine professionals who bring a diverse background. Only one of them is Armenian. As opposed to many humanitarian awards where organizations nominate potential recipients, the Aurora Prize opened it up so everyone could nominate anyone they found deserving.

To say this was a world-class event would be an understatement. Orchestras greeted guests with their music, delectable spreads of local cuisine lined the tables, and hundreds of volunteers said yes to every request made of them for an entire weekend. Everyone was there to celebrate the Aurora Prize.

The Aurora Prize was founded by three individuals equally as impressive Mr. Clooney. Vartan Gregorian is president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York. He also served as the President of the New York Public Library , and in 2004, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Dr. Noubar Afeyan is Managing Partner and CEO of Flagship Ventures, a leading early-stage venture capital firm. During his 25-year career as inventor, entrepreneur, CEO and venture capitalist, Dr. Afeyan has cofounded and helped to build nearly 30 successful startups. Ruben Vardanyan is a well-known entrepreneur, philanthropist, cofounder and Chairman of RVVZ Foundation. Previously, he served as CEO and Chairman of Troika Dialog, one of the oldest and largest investment banks in Russia and the CIS.  He leads several initiatives aimed at advancing Armenia, including helping to open UWC Dilijan College, a world-class educational institution in Armenia. During the weekend, the cofounders also hosted the Aurora Dialogues, a series of high-level discussions which unveiled the results of their first annual Humanitarian Index, a global study of world’s most pressing humanitarian issues, including the current refugee crisis.

To say this was a world-class event would be an understatement. Orchestras greeted guests with their music, delectable spreads of local cuisine lined the tables, and hundreds of volunteers said yes to every request made of them for an entire weekend. Everyone was there to celebrate the Aurora Prize.

See more:  here.

Forbes.com

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