After another eventful year advancing the cause of liberty, here are the nominees for each of the three categories of our Students For Liberty Global Awards.
1. Event of the year
Socratic Samvads/Colloquia series: South Asia SFL
The concept of a Socratic Samvad (Samvad means dialogue in Sankrit) originated during the period of the pandemic when all events were online. It was developed by a team of dedicated SFL coordinators in India in order to facilitate short yet effective Socratic discussions online.
A SASFL Samvad consists of discourse in the manner conducted by Socrates in Ancient Greece. Students are asked to share their thoughts and opinions, often critically, in a structured manner in reference to the reading material distributed at least a day before the event. Socratic events aim to help each participant develop their reasoning and critical thinking skills, discover effective and respectful communication methods, and have intelligent opinions on topics related to liberty. An efficient Socratic event consists of no more than 15 to 20 screened participants.
Due to the noteworthy success of the event series in FY 2020-21, a group of senior coordinators from India decided to expand its scope and goals for the next year and created detailed guidelines. As such, in FY 2021-22, coordinators across South Asia used this concept as they hosted a series of 54 Samvads and 18 Colloquia, gathering a total of 1004 and 301 participants respectively.
The impact of this constructive form of education and skill development was felt far and wide when multiple universities across India and Nepal started inviting SFL coordinators to host such events at their campuses. Also, due to the significant potential of this event series, SASFL raised more than USD 12,000 from the Atlas Network for a Socratic Camp in India.
Nelson’s event on Objectivism, Tanzania: African SFL
With just under one month to organize, promote, and host his event on the theme of ‘Objectivism and Liberty’ at the Arusha Technical College in Tanzania, Nelson was able to get 108 students to attend – by the highest attendance among our series of events on Objectivism in Africa.
Attendees learned about the virtues of rational self-interest, including productiveness, independent thinking, personal responsibility, justice, and integrity. This event added to the number of advocates of reason in the region, and led many attendees to develop a new interest in learning about Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism as they later attended several virtual sessions on Objectivism and liberty.
There have since been debates on the theme of Objectivism and liberty, aimed at fostering a deeper understanding of liberty and Objectivism. Furthermore, more than half of the event’s attendees applied to join our Local Coordinator Program this year, contributing to achieving the goal of obtaining 100 new applications from Tanzania.
Ideas Hub, Venezuela: EsLibertad
Venezuela saw a new online training model coupled with a LibertyCon-format conference that encouraged more than 420 students to join and learn about the ideas of liberty and how to promote them effectively.
Participants strengthened their knowledge and skills in the fields of entrepreneurship, communication, cryptocurrency, and pro-liberty activism. This took place in the form of a month-long program featuring classes and discussions with renowned liberty-minded intellectuals such as the economist Daniel Lahoud, lawyer Alejandro Bongiovanni, published author Antonio Canova, and journalist Nehomar Hernandez, as well as SFL coordinators and alumni from Latin America and the United States.
Furthermore, the “Ideas Hub” flagship event brought together more than 100 young people from the central region of Venezuela at the amphitheater of El Hatillo municipality, located in the metropolitan area of Caracas, the country’s capital.
2. Group of the Year
SFL Czech Republic: European SFL
The Czech team played a particularly active role in the Liberty Opportunity Task Force (LOTF) for Ukraine. They went to the Slovakia-Ukraine border to pick up one of our Ukrainian coordinators and take her to the Czech Republic, while also delivering aid to the border camp set up for refugees. One of the team hosted a Ukrainian LC in his family home for 3 months, refusing offers from SFL to reimburse her living expenses.
Later on, they participated in several Ukrainian aid events, including as a partner in a humanitarian music festival. They built a new regional website with an active following, including an active blog with over 40 LC-written articles. They organized a number of webinars early in the financial year and successfully expanded to Brno. The Czech SFL team also facilitated the translation of a book by Steve Horwitz into Czech, and held weekly events ensuring a constant SFL presence in Prague and Brno, along with two regional conferences attracting over 150 attendees each.
Furthermore, the number of local coordinators has doubled and the team has started a volunteer program to filter out the best candidates for the LC Program. The Czech team also hosted the 2022 edition of LibertyCon Europe, and FY22 was marked by the increased promotion of Bitcoin and the establishment of partnerships with local crypto organizations. The official headcount for event attendees in FY22 is 1246, although the real number is certainly higher.
ASFL Leadership Team: African SFL
In line with SFL’s goals and mission, the ASFL leadership team was created to help ASFL coordinators improve their leadership skills. The first Regional Coordinator to serve in this department, Gerry, laid down an ambitious plan for the team. He created an international team, where a call for applications was put out to recruit talented coordinators. After a rigorous interview session, top candidates from all five of ASFL’s regions were selected.
The team then hosted a coordinators’ call on the last weekend of every month in order to go over and report on ASFL’s achievements for that month, share news about events, and also share key lessons and insights that would help coordinators improve their leadership skills.
The call included training given by one of the top leaders, on a range of topics including, among others, recruitment, event planning, marketing, group creation, leading for liberty, and communication skills.
Furthermore, the team brought together many of ASFL’s favorite alumni to share their stories, talk about their time at SFL, and offer advice to current coordinators.
Thanks to the ASFL leadership team, we now have a platform where leaders from across the vast continent of Africa meet and connect, share their experiences, and even work together on projects. We have seen a couple of events and projects where coordinates from different countries worked together – something that was not common prior to the leadership team’s efforts to connect our volunteers through the love of and advocacy for the ideas of liberty.
UJL – União Juventude e Liberdade (Youth and Liberty Union): SFL Brazil
The UJL has been heavily involved in the biggest events and social actions carried out by SFL Brazil during FY22. In short, the UJL has embodied SFLB’s objective: to educate, develop, and empower the next generation of leaders of liberty.
The group’s main contribution to SFLB in that sense has been its presence in spaces which the liberty movement finds difficult to penetrate. Having a radically different target audience than SFLB, they were able to engage their leaders to join the SFLB and become some of our main leaders, as perceived by the gamification ranking and impact stories.
Furthermore, the UJL has enjoyed considerable success in working to break down some of the negative stereotypes about libertarianism. They work to show that it is possible to be intellectual without being elitist, defend private initiative, contribute to social causes, and defend its principles outside the traditional “libertarian bubble”. The UJL seeks to make the defense of freedom something that is increasingly popular and accessible.
3. Student of the Year
Giorgi Sinauridze: European SFL
Giorgi Sinauridze is a regional coordinator for the Caucasus region. He joined European Students For Liberty in 2017 and has been one of our top students ever since. Starting out as a Local Coordinator in Tbilisi, Georgia, Giorgi soon became a National Coordinator.
With his vision to expand the promotion of liberty outside of Georgia, he successfully established local groups in Azerbaijan and Armenia and became a Regional Coordinator for the Caucasus. Right now, we have an active, independent group in Azerbaijan and a growing volunteer group in Armenia. Through Giorgi’s dedication, these groups united for several joint projects in Georgia.
Giorgi has also established a lasting partnership with Friedrich Naumann Foundation – South Caucasus, which is currently our biggest partner in Georgia. With Giorgi’s involvement, Georgian Students For Liberty and Friedrich Naumann Foundation – South Caucasus have worked closely together on several projects. He launched several “know-how” projects in partnership with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for an audience of Georgian students. These include “Why Politics”, a school dedicated to educating young people interested in politics, and “Why Liberty”, a three-day summer school, featuring sessions about liberty in every aspect.
Along with these schools, Giorgi managed to secure the partnership of Friedrich Naumann Foundation – South Caucasus for most of SFL’s larger conferences in Georgia. He managed to raise $34,000 in funds from Friedrich Naumann Foundation – South Caucasus this year alone. Alongside these activities, Giorgi organized John Galt School with Ayn Rand Center Europe and led the registration team at LibertyCon 2022.
Sumaira Waseem: South Asia SFL
Sumaira Waseem is currently the Regional Coordinator for the Khyber Region of SASFL, which covers both Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is very much a challenge to find liberty-minded students in a region that has been heavily influenced by socialism and ruled by authoritarian regimes. Yet, under her leadership, the region never failed the Local Coordinator intake process.
Her success can be attributed to the recruitment of high-potential leaders who hold positions, such as young professors, liberal think tank officers, social activists, and civil service aspirants. As a result, this year alone, her region generated 185 applications, 82 of which came from Afghanistan, yet the region carefully picked only the top 15 applicants.
Becoming part of SFL during the Covid era, Sumaira was unable to organize in-person events. However, she didn’t give up. She invested her efforts in the online events space and tapped into opportunities before the enthusiasm for such events gradually faded. She organized three expert class workshops, one reading group, and one webinar, mostly on topics related to behavioral economics, entrepreneurship, and digital currencies.
Additionally, Sumaira took on a vital role in the New Frontiers of Objectivism campaign by organizing two in-person Socratic discussions and an eight-week-long Virtual Reading Group on Objectivism.
In FY 21-22, despite the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, which precluded our two active leaders from organizing events, Sumaira’s efforts paid off well when multiple applicants showed interest in joining SFL, thereby ensuring our continued presence in the war-torn region.
Most recently, Sumaira has been selected for the prestigious Prometheus Fellowship by SFL, and she intends to utilize the opportunity to develop herself to better support leaders of liberty from one of our high-risk regions to create a lasting SFL legacy.
Maria Amare: EsLibertad
Maria has proven to be an outstanding student since joining SFL in 2020, becoming National Coordinator for the central region of Venezuela in FY22 and then Regional Coordinator for Venezuela in FY23. During the last fiscal year, she accumulated more than 1.2 million gamification points, organizing online events, campaigns, in-person events, and training programs throughout Venezuela, including this year’s EsLibertad Event of the Year.
In addition, she was an essential part of Latin American projects such as “Reflexiones Libres,” a campaign dedicated to promoting the book “After Socialism, Liberty” and the reflections of Local Coordinators on the challenges of their countries; “New Frontiers of Objectivism,” sponsored by Prometheus Foundation to disseminate the work of Ayn Rand; and the new vision of LibertyCon for Latin America. Furthermore, Maria has been a fundamental source of support for her peers, having participated in events organized by the Colombian group, and being part of other SFL global campaigns and programs.
Beyond this, she has stood out within the sphere of young activists in her country, being an active part of networks of non-governmental organizations, founding a chapter of LOLA in Venezuela, and developing events with FEE.