The World Affairs Council of Orange County Presents

Yusra Mardini 

The Syrian Olympic swimmer who competed on the refugee team and inspired the Netflix film: The Swimmers.


Quail Hill Community Center

39 Shady Canyon Dr.

Irvine, CA 92603

Date & Time:

Thursday, February 16, 2023

5:30 PM Reception and Appetizers

6:30 PM – 8:00 PM Main Program (Interview and Q&A)


$25 minimum contribution

Students are free!

Link to register for students:

Speaker Bio:

Syrian refugee and Olympic swimmer Yusra Mardini was appointed the youngest ever Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency in April 2017, aged just 19. She advocates for refugees globally through sharing her own inspiring story and has become a powerful voice for the forcibly displaced across the world and an example of the resilience and determination to rebuild lives and positively contribute to host communities.

Yusra fled conflict in Syria when she was just a teenager and made the treacherous sea journey to Europe with her sister, Sara.  The engine on their boat stopped working mid-crossing and the sisters and two others jumped into the water and, for several hours guided the dingy to safety, saving the lives of everyone onboard. 

After finding refuge in Germany, Yusra was selected to compete at Rio 2016 as part of the first ever Refugee Olympic Team. Having written about her struggle with being called refugee she became the proud flagbearer for the team.  She was catapulted on to the world’s stage and subsequently went on to address world leaders at the UN General Assembly, meet the Pope and be honored with several awards.  Yusra competed once again for the Refugee Olympic Team at Tokyo 2020.

Yusra’s incredible story is told in her memoir ‘Butterfly: From Refugee to Olympian – My Story of Rescue, Hope and Triumph’ and in the Netflix film The Swimmers, released in November 2022.

In her role as UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, Yusra has shared her personal experience and her passion for refugee rights and inclusion  with audiences from school children to CEOs, from thought leaders to heads of state.  She has given key note speeches at Google Zeitgeist, WE Day, the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Global Women’s Forum and many other world stages.  She also supports UNHCR campaigns, events and fundraising activities through extensive media and social media, including interviews with UNHCR Special Envoy Angeline Jolie for TIME, Olympic Swimmer Katie Ledecky for Discovery, CNN, MBC, BBC.


Moderator Bio: