The Nobel Peace Prize Forum Experience: The Power of Ideas

by Elsa Lilja Gunnarsdottir

It has been about two weeks since I returned from Minneapolis, and it is clear that the Nobel Peace Prize Forum has left a lasting impression on me. We were able to hear from speakers from a variety of fields about their ideas of peace and it became evident that no matter what career you have, where you are from or who you are, you have the power to change the world.

The theme was “the power of ideas,” and it was proven to us during this forum just how powerful an idea can be. One of the keynote speakers, Muhammad Yunus, explained how his very simple idea was able to lift millions out of poverty. It started with an idea to keep his people away from the loan sharks and ended in a multi-national company. He decided to lend people small amounts of money out of his own pocket– just enough for them to start a small business or buy a couple of chickens. He found that the money was returned back 100 %, and that many were able to start a better life and even continue to stay out of poverty. It is incredible what a small, simple solution can do and how quickly it can develop.

Anyone can change the world– all it takes is an idea, determination, and persistence. Also it is important to believe in yourself; many doubted Muhammad Yunus’ idea could work but he did not give up and ended up proving them wrong. If people believe in change, it can become realistic. I believe the key to change is optimism. And none of those who spoke at the Forum would have achieved anything if they had not believed in themselves and been optimistic. 

The Forum has enabled me to gain multiple perspectives from a diverse group of speakers. Each day was set with a theme: Starting with Business Day, then Science and Health Day, and ending with Global Day. There was something anyone could relate to, and I believe it is important for people to think about how their passion and/or career can help contribute to make this world a little bit better. 

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