This week, the World Affairs Council of Washington D.C. held its annual global education gala ceremony and awarded Colombia as one of five honorees that have demonstrated “an exemplary leadership commitment to global education, international affairs, and global communications.”
Specifically, Colombia was recognized for its diplomatic work centered on ending more than a half-century of conflict with the nation’s largest guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
On hand in the U.S. capital to accept the World Affairs Council’s 2017 Distinguished Diplomatic Service Award was Juan Carlos Pinzón, Colombia’s ambassador to the United States. In line with the theme of the evening, the ambassador and former defense minister highlighted the role that education must play in transforming Colombian society as it moves into its post-conflict era.
Photo: Colombian ambassador to the United States Juan Carlos Pinzón — pictured here (far right) with Canadian Minister of National Defense Peter MacKay (left) and U.S. Senator John McCain in 2012 — was on hand in Washington to accept the World Affairs Council Distinguished Diplomatic Service Award. (Credit: Halifax International Security Forum)
“Taking into account what is going on in the world and the evolution of technology and innovation, we must prepare current and future generations of students for success in the global economy,” said Pinzón. “As we embark on this transition to sustainable peace we look forward to continuing to engage with the World Affairs Council and expand on building a more peaceful and prosperous future across the Americas and around the world.”
Though he was unable to attend in person, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos recorded a video message that was played for the capacity crowd. “Central to reaching a peace agreement after five decades of war is a special relationship Colombia shares with the United States,” said Santos in the recording. “I truly believe that global education is the key to our collective future, and we commend the World Affairs Council of Washington, D.C. for its commitment to advancing it.”
During the ceremony, the prestigious 2017 Global Ambassador Award went to renowned scientist Dr. Jane Goodall, whose work with chimpanzees in Africa gave the world invaluable insight about how the species lives. Now 82, the London-born U.N. Messenger of Peace and Jane Goodall Institute founder presided over the gala to offer a keynote address.
“The Jane Goodall Institute works to inspire people to take action to benefit other people, animals and the world we all share,” said Dr. Goodall. “We each have the power to make a difference every day and to be an ambassador of positive change for our world.”
Also honored at the gala were three other award recipients: Bill Ballhaus, chairman, president, and CEO of Blackboard Inc., which received the 2017 Global Education Award; Dr. Matthew Shank, president of Marymount University, which received the 2017 Educator of the Year Award; and Patricia Harrison, president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which received the Global Communications Award.