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Persecuted Chilean Refugee Talks to School Amnesty Group

Tuesday, 06 March 2012

Gloria Pollack, who escaped from Chile to the UK in the 1970s when she and her family faced persecution under General Pinochet's dictatorship, has visited Bolton School to give a presentation to the Boys' Division Amnesty Youth Group. 

Rayhan Ghanchi, a Year 12 student, reflected on the visit: "Whilst we all hear about the struggles and conflicts around the world, the speaker really brought home to us how each person is affected on a personal and intimate basis. Her husband had been a Socialist journalist which had meant they were under real scrutiny and she provided a harrowing description of how traumatising it had been to be in fear for your life." 

Jennifer Kemp, an English teacher and Coordinator of the Amnesty Youth Group said: "We have been privileged because although Gloria is a regular guest speaker in schools, delivering sessions about Amnesty International and its work, this was the first time she had spoken specifically about her experiences as a refugee being accepted into the UK. She also focused on Amnesty International's involvement in the present day with helping the treatment of refugees all over the world.  It was a moving and engaging talk, providing a clear reminder to the pupils of the work that Amnesty does to help refugees and the importance of our involvement in their campaigns, particularly letter-writing." 

The group, which meets weekly and is attended by pupils in Years 7-12, has recently been involved in a number of letter-writing campaigns including organising a petition for the closure of Guantanamo Bay, sent to Hillary Clinton, and sending a letter to the Justice Minister in Japan to ask for the abolition of the death penalty. 

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The talk brought home how conflicts can have such a traumatising effect on individuals