At the World Refugee Day commemoration on June 20, 2009, Angelina Jolie stood on the stage, but she wasn’t performing this time. Instead, she, as an United Nation Goodwill Ambassador, paid tribute to the millions of uprooted people across the globe who were forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. While being filmed and broadcasted live on the televisions, she delivered a speech to inform the audiences the idea of “refugees are not numbers” and incite people’s care for the refugees. With the use of emotional and logical appeals, personal anecdotes, as well as parallelism, Jolie illustrated refugees’ bravery and resilience in the hope to raise people’s concern to those impoverished people that were being ignored.
Angelina Jolie is one of the most well-known leading actress in Hollywood. She has been participating in humanitarian aid events, and she was appointed as Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency in 2001. She has visiting impoverished and displaced people in more than 20 countries including Iraq,Tanzania, and Afghanistan. At the World Refugee Day commemoration, which dedicate to draw attention to the plights of refugees throughout the globe held by United Nation Refugee Agency on June 20 each year, Jolie gave the public her best knowledge and own experience of those refugees who she thought are worthwhile for people’s care and awareness.
Jolie begins her speech with parallelism to convey the idea that “refugees are not numbers.” She says, “they’re not even just refugees. They are mothers and daughters and fathers and sons – they are farmers, teachers, doctors, engineers, they are individuals all. And most of all they are survivors…they are the most impressive people I have ever met and they are also some of the world’s most vulnerable.” Her use of parallelism emphasizes that refugees should not be seen as meaningless number of population, instead, each of them are unique individuals and have no difference with the audiences. The parallelism makes the audiences feel more close and related to refugees, which will allow them to be more willing to put themselves in refugees’ shoes. Also, the word “survivors” and the phrase “world’s most vulnerable” raise sympathy in the audiences’ mind and make them realize how urgently in need of help the refugees are. In the end of speech, Jolie employed another parallelism. “If you see the individual, you see the education and knowledge the refugees pass on to their children because often it is all they have to pass on. It is why it’s so important that we give them education. If you see the individual, you see the contribution that can be made by refugees…” This parallelism echoes with the first one in the beginning of the speech. She repeats the phrase “if you see the individual” to reinforces that people should look in-depth and understand the true self of refugees. This parallelism again supports her idea of “refugees are not numbers.”
Jolie follows up with multiple stories of her own encounters with the refugees to reveal the real states and conditions of them. First, she shares a story of a pregnant Afghani woman, who were not able to be relocated with her people because of late pregnancy. She describes the woman’s situation by saying that, “I remember meeting a pregnant Afghani woman in a completely abandoned camp…There was nothing for miles around the camp – not a single tree, no other people in sight.” This clearly illustrates the hardship and plight that refugees faced. Jolie furthers the story by describing how the pregnant woman begging them to take her child, who were starving and always asked the woman for food. “And she asked if we would consider taking him, would we take her sons so he could eat. And she said it with tears in her eyes with such a desperation. A desperation unimaginable to every parent in this room.” She defines the desperation as “unimaginable to every parent in this room.” The phrase emotionally evokes the parents who is listening to the speech, and also connect the audiences with refugees through the nobel parental love.
Jolie then inspires the audiences with another story of a paralyzed child in Tanzania. Despite his casualties, the child is described by Jolie as “bog pretty eyes, big wide sparkling smile, and after he’d been to, he’s full of laughter and love.” While the vivid descriptions creating images in the audiences’ mind, they also reflect and add acknowledge to refugees’ resilience and bravery. Later on that trip, Jolie meets a 8 years old girl who witness her family being killed. The girl not only survived, but also save her little brother. As Jolie says, “that little girl had a depth and a strength that I will never know.” This story again illustrates that refugees are indeed survivors with strength and unbreakable spirit. Jolie describes strength of the little girl with the phrase “I will never never know.” The phrase further enhances how Jolie is impressed by the refugees and will allow audience be more emotionally impacted.
Another key aspect of Jolie’s speech is her use of logic to try to inform the publics how grievous the refugee issue is. She says, “We should never forget that more than 80% of refugees are hosted and have been for years and years in the poorest developing countries.
Pakistan, a country now facing a crisis with over 2 million of its own people despised is still hosting 1.7 million Afghans and has hosted millions of Afghan families for nearly thirty years.” By using numerical datas, Jolie allows the audience realize the magnitude of the refugee crisis in the world, and the audience will find Jolie’s speech more reliable and logical with the help of statistics.