• Background Image

    News & Updates

May 31, 2014

Storytelling—How every culture expresses “Ubuntu—I am because we are.” (Part 2)

Storytelling is a natural part of being human.  This creative, compelling way to communicate ideas, ethical beliefs, spiritual foundations, and cultural history might manifest as graphic artistry, spoken words, sign language, or be written.

Festivals celebrating the art of storytelling, primarily in the oral tradition, are found around the globe and can be one of the best ways to experience different cultures.

In Part 2 of Storytelling—How every culture expresses “Ubuntu—I am because we are,” we introduce you to Linda Goodman, a Master Storyteller who will be a Teller In Residence performing September 16-20 at the 42nd annual, world-renowned International Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee. We asked Linda if, in her experience, she sees a benefit in teaching diplomats and others at the top levels of government to use the Art of Storytelling as a tool to break deadlocks during peace talks and other negotiations?  Can a great storyteller craft stories that enlighten listeners enough for some to permanently change their minds even about long-held beliefs that stand in the way of coming to agreements?

Linda answered us by saying, “The answer is an emphatic YES!!  A few years back I heard Master Storyteller Ray Buckley tell a story about how he was able to forgive the man who had killed his wife and son, his only child. By first getting to know the man’s son, who was the same age as Ray’s own son had been, Ray was able to steel himself and visit the man in prison. Getting to know the man who killed his wife and son led to Ray being able to forgive him.  Before hearing Ray tell his story, I did not believe such a thing was possible. After hearing it, I understood that when you know another person’s story, you can sometimes forgive even the unforgivable.  I have served on numerous nonprofit boards and on occasion have used my storytelling skills to bring those on the opposite side of an issue around to my way of thinking.”

Linda shares her mastery in a story that embodies the Art of Storytelling within a personal tale entitled, The Punishment.

Linda Goodman – The Punishment

When asked how she felt her story, The Punishment, illustrated the concept of Ubuntu, Linda said, “We are all products of those who came before us. In The Punishment, my father teaches both me and my mother the power of compassion. His fake whipping (which she believed was real until the day she died) resulted in the first hug I ever remember receiving from my mother. Before the punishment, I saw my mother only as an enforcer. After the punishment, the memories of that nurturing hug softened my heart towards her, and I became a more loving daughter. I am a kinder, more loving person because my father orchestrated a fake whipping that brought out the secret, compassionate side of my mother.”

You can learn more about Linda at www.lindagoodmanstoryteller.com.

May 25, 2014

Meet the Rotary Peace Fellows – Introducing Geysar Gurbanov (2013-14)

 “Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity; it is an act of justice. Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”
                                                                        ~ Nelson Mandela

We are very pleased to offer visitors to the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation-USA website the chance to meet some extraordinary young people who are in the newest group of Peace Fellows sponsored by the Rotary Organization.  There are five Rotary Peace Centers within these universities:

It is particularly poignant now, as the world remains in mourning at the passing of Nelson Mandela, to see the reflection of this great and wise leader’s inspiration in the work of the Rotary Peace Fellows.

We remember President Mandela as a truly great leader for our time and for all time.  President Mandela’s life of extraordinary courage and accomplishment changed the world.

Introducing Geysar Gurbanov, Rotary Peace Fellow (2013-14)

As a Rotary Peace Fellow, Geysar is based at the Duke-UNC Center for International Studies in Peace and Conflict Resolution.  He is enrolled as a Graduate Student at the Center for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies.

Geysar Gurbanov was born in Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. By the time the country became independent in 1991, it was a war-torn unstable state drowning in political chaos, economic crisis, and military conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. The conflict gradually grew into an increasingly violent war between Christian Armenians and Muslim Azerbaijanis, which resulted in ethnic cleansing and other atrocities. His early childhood memories were formed by Russian tanks invading his town, pogroms, armed coup d’états, poverty, crime, and food shortages caused by a large influx of refugees.

After graduating from high school, Geysar studied law at Baku State University, and in 2005-2006, he studied Administration of Law and Justice in the United States on a U.S. State Department-sponsored fellowship. Before running in the 2009 Municipal Elections, he was a director of the NATO Information Center. His professional portfolio includes work with OSCE-ODIHR, EPF-CRRC, British Council, and IREX. He served as an advisor to the Council of the European Union in matters concerning human rights and political issues in Azerbaijan from 2008 to 2011.

During summer 2009, Geysar spent a month in Poland with the European Volunteers Service as a volunteer in the Chechen refugee camp located in Warsaw, Poland. In 2011, shortly after moving to the United States, he started “The South Caucasus Diary,” a blog devoted to political and human rights issues in Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia. It also advocates for a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. In a short period of time his blog attracted more than 100,000 readers from 197 countries.

In 2013, he became a Rotary Peace Fellow. The program was created as part of Rotary’s ongoing effort to promote greater tolerance and cooperation among nations.  As a Peace Fellow, Geysar was admitted to the Duke-UNC Center for Slavic, Eurasian, and East European Studies (CSEEES). He is also working on his professional certificate in peace and conflict resolution at the Duke-UNC Center for International Studies. He is fluent in English, Russian, Turkish, Azerbaijani, and also studies Polish and Persian languages.

We asked each Peace Fellow two interview questionsHere are Geysar’s answers:

1. What is your opinion about the prospects of an end to armed conflict in the next 50 years?

Realistically speaking, it is not possible. You can neither disarm all nations, nor solve all of their problems that eventually lead to those armed conflicts. Nonetheless, what is possible is to make future armed conflict less violent and destructive, more controllable and predictable. While these measures will decrease the negative consequences of armed conflicts such as civil casualties, destroyed infrastructure, refugees and internally displaced people, the international community should work together to prevent armed conflicts when and wherever possible.

By promoting greater religious tolerance and intercultural dialogue among nations, and by supporting democratic changes with open, accountable governments, we can achieve this goal. Also by closing the gap between the rich and poor, the fortunate and less fortunate people, with the  development of viable, sustainable economic policies beneficial to all concerned, we can contribute to preventing violent conflict across the world. This will require strong effort on a global level.

2. What do you believe are the three most important factors to foster peace within and among nations?

Liberal education, political democracy, and cross-cultural and inter-religious dialogue.

Your comments are welcome.  Send them directly to our Managing Editor at:
rebecca.popham@tutufoundationusa.org, or use the “Post a Comment” box below if you prefer.

May 1, 2014

Ann Curry Interviews Desmond Tutu for The Today Show

Archbishop Desmond Tutu chaired South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which saw 19,000 men, women and children testify about the brutal atrocities they endured under the racial oppression of apartheid. The commission operated according to his principle that “no one is beyond redemption.” He has published a new book about having the capacity to forgive. Below is his interview with NBC’s Ann Curry.