Strathearn’s Elena Gourley joins Bill Clinton and George Mitchell at Freedom of the City of Belfast Ceremony
Strathearn School’s Elena Gourley shared a stage on Tuesday with President Bill Clinton and Senator George Mitchell as Belfast City Council conferred upon them the Freedom of the City of Belfast. Twelve year old Elena read her prize-winning story, Peace, to the audience that included international dignitaries and local politicians who packed into the Ulster Hall. It included the line, ‘It was then that I saw Peace. Half-hidden in the shadows, she stood in silent splendour’. President Clinton took to the podium and paid special tribute to Elena, who spoke eloquently and with confidence.
As the runner up in a global creative writing contest, the Commonwealth Class Short Story Competition, Elena was invited to share her take on peace at the historic event twenty years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Elena, who was interviewed by the BBC afterward, reflected that without the work of politicians like President Clinton and Senator Mitchell, her understanding of peace would have been very different to what it is today.
Elena later attended a civic reception at Belfast City Hall, where she read her story again, this time to an assembly that included delegates from 21 countries who have come to Belfast to take part in a special conference, Peace and Beyond, that will look at peace building through a series of seminars, talks and lectures over three days.
Elena’s story can be read on the Schools Online website.