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    Rotary International

March 7, 2013

Rotary – Recruiting the Next Generation of Peacemakers

The Rotary Peace Fellowship offers full funding for a master’s degree or professional certificate in peace study at one of six Rotary Peace Centers around the world.

“Rotary believes, as I believe, that it is possible to have a world without war,” said Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. “By educating future peace-builders and working to ease the conditions that breed violence and conflict, Rotary is demonstrating to the rest of the world that peace is attainable.”

Rotary – Voices for Peace

Voices For Peace from Rotary International on Vimeo.

Since 2002, Rotary has sponsored 50 fellows every year, each of whom embark on one to two years of master’s-level study at leading Rotary Peace Centers around the world including:

  • Uppsala University, Sweden
  • University of Bradford, UK
  • University of Queensland, Australia
  • International Christian University, Japan
  • Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA

Additionally, in 2004 Rotary added the Professional Development Certificate program at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.  Each year, the Rotary Peace Center in Thailand trains up to 50 mid-level professionals from peace-related fields such as public health, education, international law, economic development, journalism, and social justice.

Now Accepting Applications

Applications for the 2014-15 class are due by 1 July 2013.  In order to apply applicants must contact their local Rotary club or district to gain endorsement.  Use the Club Locator to find your nearest club.

“When I talk about peace, I tell people that you must do more than simply ‘care’ about peace — you have to take action to achieve it,” said Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams, who won her prize in 1997 for helping ban antipersonnel landmines. “That’s what I admire about Rotary members—they lead by example, both at the community level and through their support of the Rotary Peace Centers.”

Rotary Peace Center alumna Izabela da Costa Pereira, now a director and project analyst for the United Nations Development Program, says the need for trained peace-makers has never been greater.  “With the plethora of conflicts in so many regions, more specialists are needed, particularly coming from conflict zones,” she said.  “One of Rotary’s greatest contributions is the promotion of peace through specialized education.”

Other Rotary Peace Center alumni of note:

Brigitta von Messling, Germany, earned her master’s degree at the Rotary Peace Center at the University of Bradford in 2006. She is the senior advisor for training and organizational development for the Center for International Peace Operations in Berlin, Germany.

Robert Opira, Uganda, earned his master’s degree at Rotary Peace Center at University of Queensland in 2007. Robert is a peace and conflict consultant providing technical support to humanitarian agencies helping internally displaced persons in Northern Uganda. He is also the director of the Great Lakes Center for Conflict Resolution in Uganda.

Rajaa Natour, Israel, earned her master’s degree at Rotary Peace Center at University of Bradford in 2011. Today she is a program manager of the Gemini Project in Jafaa, Israel. The project promotes constructive dialogue between groups of Jewish and Palestinian students across ten campuses and cities.

Jason Hutson, Japan, earned his master’s degree at Rotary Peace Center at International Christian University in 2009. He is the founder and CEO for What Sport Creative, a Tokyo-based organization that uses sports as a catalyst for youth development and cultural exchange.

Cameron Chisholm, USA, earned his master’s degree at the Rotary Peace Center at University of Bradford in 2008. He is the president of the International Peace & Security Institute and teaches peace studies courses at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Rotary is a global humanitarian organization with more than 1.2 million members in 34,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. Rotary members are men and women who are business, professional and community leaders with a shared commitment to make the world a better place through humanitarian service.

December 7, 2012

Culture’s Role in the Art of Peace-Building and Reconciliation

Aspen Cultural Diplomacy Forum From 22 to 24 October 2012, International Christian University (ICU) hosted the “2012 Aspen Cultural Diplomacy Forum” on its verdant campus in Tokyo, Japan. The Forum was cosponsored by ICU, the Aspen Institute and the Japan ICU Foundation (JICUF) and formed part of ICU’s 60th Anniversary Project. The three-day event, the first ever of its type on the ICU campus, centered on discussion among over ninety specialists and intellectuals from twenty-two countries worldwide. The Forum dealt with the role culture plays in “the Art of Peace-Building and Reconciliation,” which served as the central theme of the three day event. The format was designed specifically to encourage participation of the diverse participants through candid discussions of difficult issues in the field of cultural diplomacy, particularly within the Asia-Pacific region.

Sadako OgataEntering its 5th year, the Aspen Cultural Diplomacy Forum has been established as the world’s premier cultural diplomacy event. It is convened by the Aspen Institute Global Initiative on Culture and Society in collaboration with partners who contribute to its scope and mission. The inaugural Forum was hosted in Paris in 2008 by the Aspen Institute and the Arts Arena of the American University of Paris under the dual themes of “Culture in Conflict” and “Culture on the Move”. The 2011 reiteration of the Forum—the Creative Arts World Summit— was co-hosted in Oman by the Aspen Institute and the Royal Opera House Muscat to explore various artistic and cultural trends.

Among the participants of the Forum at ICU, two in particular were especially highly-esteemed. Madame Sadako Ogata, special advisor to the President, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), spoke about her extensive experiences regarding the development of the concept of Human Security as the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees and president of JICA. She also focused on Japan’s future and its relationship with such neighboring nations as China and South Korea. She expressed her hope that students would work to be more actively involved in the world outside Japan and step up to take important roles in society and politics. Olusegun Obasanjo, the former president of Nigeria, spoke about his country’s transition from a colonial state to independence and recalled his own role in the transition’s subsequent civil wars, democratization and stabilization.

The Forum also involved discussion on ways to strengthen peace-building work through reducing propaganda and widely accepted cultural prejudices, removing negative labels attached to regions and races, and looking not for differences but commonalities among humans. Each day of the Forum brought large numbers of students hoping to become involved in peace-building and diplomacy, including a number of the Rotary International Peace Fellows on campus. Both Japanese and international, graduate and undergraduate students alike were able to meet the participants and integrate themselves fully into the three day Forum. With such a significant Cultural Diplomacy Forum on the ICU campus, especially dealing with such a variety of contemporary issues in the Asia-Pacific and beyond, the seeds for a more peaceful future were sown.

November 16, 2012

Goodness Prevails in Our Stories of Hope and Hardship

On November 3rd, over 1,300 Rotarians, UN officials, representatives from worldwide international development organizations and guests gathered at the United Nations headquarters in New York City to explore ways to advance world peace, conflict prevention and resolution.

This annual event celebrates the relationship between Rotary International (RI) and the United Nations, which dates back to 1945, when Rotarians helped to develop the United Nations Charter.  Today, Rotary holds the highest consultative status possible with the United Nations as a non-governmental organization. This year, as a Rotary Peace Fellow, I was invited by the RI representative to the United Nations to give a keynote address discussing my work and ideas about how to use the arts as a force for social change with my special focus on the idea that telling stories does matter in community development.

Despite transportation challenges, flight cancellations, and blackouts following the impact of Hurricane Sandy, news arrived that the UN event was to happen. I also managed to get word that I should find a way to New York City any way that I could. At the same time, I still had to finish preparing my UN talk that I would give that coming Saturday at the UN headquarters.

nyc hurricane sandy lights outNew York City – Light Out

As I flew into NYC that Thursday night, two days after the storm had hit, at first glance I thought that I was flying over the sea. But then I noticed the flickering lights down below and realized that I was not over water. I was flying directly over the outskirts of the city itself, blacked out by the storm. Down below I thought I could see candle lights flickering and I imagined people gathered together.

Upon entry into the city, I sensed an atmosphere overwhelmed with weariness. Faces tired but determined to get through it all. There was a sense of solidarity as city residents were returning home, having been stranded in other parts of the country or abroad. Two Brooklyn residents who had been stranded in Texas offered to share their taxi ride with me as the taxi driver revealed his own story to us.  He went on to tell us the stories of others he had given rides to that week—stories of being stuck on bridges for hours between Manhattan and Brooklyn and of city workers and volunteers desperate to lend a hand to others most affected by the storm’s impact. He relayed his own fears about not being able to work once his half empty tank ran dry.

Arriving two days after the storm allowed me to connect with strangers and become immersed in their community, connecting through people’s stories on personal levels. Businesses, shops, and cafes that managed to remain open welcomed people in as I partook in the day-to-day activities of life alongside others. I shared an evening meal in a Brooklyn apartment with new friends and we drank tea on their Brooklyn rooftop, the New York skyline encircling us in jagged lights.

The next day I ventured into central Manhattan and discovered my hotel was one of the places affected by the power outage. The hotel proprietors of the Americana Inn on 39th street, despite the loss of business, were kind enough to offer me suggestions for other hotels in the area, although they said it would be unlikely I would find anything. I offered my thanks and wished them well.

It seemed half of Manhattan had migrated to the areas with working power grids, and I was starting to realize that I might have to sleep outside that night. But eventually I found the last room left in the city, a room on the Lower East Side, powered by one generator.

Entering the Lower East Side felt like going from West to East Berlin before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The contrast between the grids which had power and those without was drastically different. The storm had swept away houses and taken out power  to an extreme degree testing the human spirit, but what I saw was human creativity connecting people to people.

nyc sandy-taxis in flodded streetsNew York City Taxis in Flooded Streets

In the areas where there were blackouts, all communications went out and generators provided by volunteers powered cell phones. FEMA trucks lined parking lots, and kids took up the chance to skate down the middle of Broadway as NYPD officers looked on and smiled. Passersby would stop and ask, “How’s your family? Do you need anything? Can we help?” People with access to power, lights, and generators offered food, shelter, and clothing. Volunteers offered to be communication channels so messages could be passed between families. A diverse crosssection of the city’s people came together to share and distribute food, to clear debris off the city streets, and to help sort through the remains of devastated homes and local businesses. People worked through the night to raise NYC and the surrounding areas back to its feet.

As media interest starts to fade, we must also remember the people of this region, and remember all the regions of the Northeast and the Caribbean that continue to be affected by the longer term impact of this storm. We must remember them as they face further difficulties, lack of warmth, and lack of shelter as the cold weather of winter and sets in.

On Saturday, the day of the UN event, I woke up at 2:30 am and walked the streets of New York City, finally finishing  the final revision of my talk. Later that day, I spoke at the UN headquarters as planned, an experience I will never forget. I dedicated my talk to the people of the city who took me in and offered inspiration, truly Telling Stories that Matter.