LatinaLista — When every U.S. President leaves office, there are two legacies that he leaves behind: his administration's actions forever chronicled in the annals of history and his library. Former President George W. Bush, having returned to Dallas, Texas after the end of his second term, is going beyond the traditional presidential library.
On the Dallas campus of his wife's alma mater, Southern Methodist University, President Bush is building the George W. Bush Presidential Center. Though the center doesn't open until Spring 2013, a key component of the center, The Bush Institute, is already in operation and has been active in creating programming, seminars and hosting internationally known change-makers, all serving the focus of the Institute's mission: "to improve the human condition through education reform, global health, human freedom and economic growth."
Freedom and the fight for democracy were, and remain, two of the undeniable passions of the former president and so it seems fitting that the first element of the George W. Bush Presidential Center to go live to the masses is the Bush Institute's work in the field of human freedom dubbed The Freedom Collection.
Launching today online, the multi-lingual site features interviews with Nobel Peace Prize awardees, cyber activists and freedom dissidents from all over the world. From China's Dalai Lama, the Czech Republic's former president Vaclav Havel (recorded less than a year before he died) to Cuba's Ariel Sigler Amaya and Venezuela's Cristal Montañéz Baylor, so far 35 videos comprise the initial installment described as a growing, living archive.
Yet, while the site is geared to inspire and inform visitors, it also has another unique mission — provide insight on what it takes to be a dissident. The interviewees not only tell their stories as to what their respective fights are about but they share how they got involved and offer advice to the next round of dissidents, as well as, messages to struggling dissidents to not lose hope in their hard fought battles.
In describing the mission of the Freedom Collection in 2009, former President George W. Bush summed it up:
"With the Freedom Collection, the Bush Institute will send a message to dissidents and underground preachers and political prisoners around the world: we hear your voice, and as you stand for your freedom, free people will stand with you."