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Malala the main attraction

Winnipeg student in London for U.K.'s first-ever We Day

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Winnipeg student Darius Maharaj-Hunter takes part in We Day in London, England on Friday.

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Winnipeg student Darius Maharaj-Hunter takes part in We Day in London, England on Friday.

Prince Harry?

Well, yes, he was OK, but Malala Yousafzai is in a class by herself.

"That was unbelievable. Everyone stood up, that's who everybody came to see -- Malala was the biggest deal," said Darius Maharaj-Hunter, a Grade 12 student from St. Maurice School in Winnipeg, moments after he left the United Kingdom's first-ever We Day in London on Friday.

Maharaj-Hunter is one of 10 remarkable Canadian students who earned a trip to England and Germany through EF Educational Tours.

Former U.S. vice-president and global warming activist Al Gore set the tone Friday for every We Day speaker, said Maharaj-Hunter: "It came down to no more complacency with anything in the world," he said.

Students were screaming and dancing in the streets outside Wembley Arena, Maharaj-Hunter said. Inside, some were in tears when they listened to Malala.

"She said you have two choices, be silent, or speak and be killed. She chose to speak," Maharaj-Hunter said. Her speech was delayed repeatedly because people wouldn't stop cheering.

Malala is the Pakistani girl who survived being shot by the Taliban for defying their edict against girls going to school.

Prince Harry, making what is believed to be an unprecedented public appearance for a royal at such a large student event, talked about using social media, Maharaj-Hunter said.

"I thought, 'Prince Harry, you don't have the best record on social media,' " said Maharaj-Hunter, who recalled the prince's questionable escapades, including donning a Nazi uniform for a costume party. However, "The kids in the stadium loved him, because he's the cool prince."

Maharaj-Hunter will spend 10 days touring cultural sites in London, Munich and Berlin. Next week, he and the other nine Canadian scholarship winners will perform hands-on scientific experiments in Germany with Canadian astronaut Dr. Roberta Bondar.

Students had the option of submitting a video or essay to explain their passion for being global citizens.

"The topic of the essay was what makes you extraordinary," Maharaj-Hunter said. Ranking himself was uncomfortable, so he channelled Mother Teresa: "I took that into a different context, of the small things you do that can build into big things," said Maharaj-Hunter, who believes religion can be a powerful force for good.

Maharaj-Hunter hopes to study political science at the University of Manitoba, then go into law and work for the United Nations.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 8, 2014 B2

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