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25-anniversary of SYLFF at the Jagiellonian University

7 May 2017 marked the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the The Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund at the Jagiellonian University. The celebrations took place in the assembly hall of Collegium Maius, the oldest historical seat of the Kraków Alma Mater.

The meeting was opened by Prof. Andrzej Mania, Chair of the Jagiellonian University SYLFF Steering Committee. 'It is a great honour to host you at the Jagiellonian University. I must admit, being a member of the Steering Committee has been one of the most pleasing endeavours in over forty years of my academic career', he said. Next, Prof. Stanisław Kistryn, JU Vice-Rector for Research and Structural Funds, welcomed the participants of the event, wishing them a continuous and fruitful cooperation. 'I offer my heartfelt congratulations and gratitude to the Jagiellonian University, Nippon Foundation, Tokyo Foundation, and everyone involved in the SYLFF programme. As a representative of the Japanese government, I take pride in the Foundations' contribution to the development of Poland and building a better future for all of us', said His Excellency Shigeo Matsutomi, Ambassador of Japan to Poland.

Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of the Nippon Foundation, recognised the Kraków Alma Mater's centuries-old tradition of providing education. 'I would like to commend the Jagiellonian University as a university that has, from the very start of the programme, continued to implement the programme successfully and has already graduated many active leaders, in the spirit of our programme', he stated. Mari Suzuki, Director of the Tokyo Foundation, said that the Jagiellonian University graduates best known in Japan, Nicolaus Copernicus and John Paul II, are perfect representatives of the values promoted by SYLFF. 'The first one changed our perception of our environment, the second one was a vocal advocate of human rights. This dream of improving society is clearly visible in the graduates of the Jagiellonian University', she added.

In the next part of the meeting, Dr hab. Paweł Laidler, prof. UJ, Vice-Dean of the Faculty of International and Political Studies, presented the JU SYLFF fellows – Jacek Dybiński, Alicja Głuszek, Monika Różalska, Marta Antosz, Marcin Rebes, Agnieszka Król, Łukasz Chyla, Radosław Rybkowski, Paweł Laidler, Marcin Grabowski, and Patrycja Sasnal – and briefly discussed their research and interests.

One of the most important moments of the meeting was awarding the golden Plus Ratio Quam Vis medal to Yohei Sasakawa. 'Not to mention the numerous accomplishments related to the Jagiellonian University and the SYLFF network, Mr. Sasakawa has devoted much of his life to providing support to those that need it the most: the sick, the underprivileged, the excluded', said prof. Mania in his laudatory speech. After the speech, Prof. Wojciech Nowak, JU Rector, presented the medal to Mr. Sasakawa.

The ceremony was preceded by a short film presentation entitled Leprosy in Our Time. 'I have been involved in various activities with the goal of fostering an "inclusive society". As you have seen in the short film, one of them is to realise a world free of leprosy, a disease that has tormented humanity for centuries. With the development of medical science, it can now be cured, and we are just a step away from the elimination of the disease. I myself am committed to a world free of leprosy and the stigma associated with it, and I will continue to work until I achieve this goal. I feel very humbled to have been granted this honour from such a distinguished university', said Yohei Sasakawa.

A seminar Development Policy in the World in the 21st century, held in the Bobrzyński Room, was also organised within the framework of the anniversary. It was aimed to serve as an introductory discussion into a bigger project focused on the current migrant crisis, the participants of which will try to come up with solutions based on the historical experiences of Central European and East Asian countries.