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Oxford Honors Aung San Suu Kyi

Burma opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, poses for the photographers following an award ceremony at the Oxford University, Oxford, England, June 20, 2012.
Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi received an honorary degree on Wednesday from Oxford, the prestigious British university where she studied before embarking on her long campaign to bring democracy to Burma. It's a short but significant stop on Suu Kyi's two-week Europe tour.

Speaking in Oxford Wednesday, Suu Kyi said she had lived a happy life in the university town.

"During the most difficult years I was upheld [by] my memories of Oxford," said Suu Kyi. "These were among the most important inner resources that helped me to cope with all the challenges I had to face."

Suu Kyi was a student at Oxford in the 1960s and returned with her family to live in the town during the 1980s.

She said Wednesday it had been a good life.

"The memories were in fact very simple ones - summer days like these, when I went on the Cherwell with friends, in a punt, or sat reading on the lawn at St Hugh's, or in the library not looking at a book but out of the windows," Suu Kyi recalled.

Oxford is a picturesque town in the south of England, which has changed relatively little since Suu Kyi left Britain in 1988.

A winding river runs through the old town, scattered with historic colleges, bicycles, and swarms of young students.

But for Suu Kyi, much has changed since she lived on a residential street with her family.

Her children have grown and her husband, Tibetan scholar Michael Aris, passed away. In her country Burma, decades of military rule have come to an end.

Andrew Dilnot is principal at St Hugh's College where Suu Kyi was a student. He says her long campaign for democracy in Burma has been an inspiration for a new generation of students.

"She's been able to stand for values that naturally appeal to young people," said Dilnot. "So the importance of freedom, the importance of democracy, the importance of peaceful approaches to the resolution of conflict."

On the streets of Oxford students told said that they felt proud of their university's link to Suu Kyi.

"She's been such a powerful figure for women and for young girls as well as politically fighting for freedom essentially. So I think that she encompasses so much that is important," said one student.

Suu Kyi is making a tour of Europe. She has already visited Switzerland, Norway, and Ireland. She will also stop in France before returning to Burma.