(CHICAGO) -- Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel welcomed Nobel Peace Prize winners including former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and President Jimmy Carter to Chicago Monday for the start of the 12th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates.
This is the first time the summit has been held in North America.
“I’m proud that we’re having it here in Chicago, because Chicago has more Nobel Laureates than any other city in America,” Emanuel said in an interview with ABC News. Twenty-one Nobel Peace Prize winners are expected to participate in the three-day event.
The mayor started the day with Gorbachev and actor-activist Sean Penn, the unlikely trio talking with public high school students at Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center. Nobel Laureates spread throughout Chicago Public Schools to tell their stories and bring home the “Speak Up, Speak Out for Freedom and Rights,” theme of the summit.
“We had 14 schools just this morning with Nobel Laureates or organizations all participating in social studies classes about the world, about peace, about social injustice, about making a difference,” said Emanuel. “And we’re going to have a curriculum that stays with the school when this summit wraps up on Wednesday. It will be here for future generations.”
At Von Steuben, Gorbachev was introduced by a high school senior who immigrated with her family from Yemen.
“She’s going to Northwestern on a four-year scholarship. That tells you something about Chicago -- that tells you something about America,” Emanuel said. “And I want the kids of that school to have the opportunity to meet these individuals who’ve made a difference in the world, the world they’re living in right now.”
For Mayor Emanuel, the message he hopes students take from their conversations with Nobel Peace Prize winners and peace activists is that “an individual speaking up on behalf of injustice, or peace, can make a difference.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio