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    Rotary Peace Fellows

August 6, 2013

Meet the Rotary Peace Fellows – Caterina Becorpi

Meet Caterina Becorpi, our next Rotary Peace Fellow from Class 12.  She is based at The Rotary Peace Center, Bradford University, West Yorkshire, England.

Caterina tells us that, “Since I can remember I have always been fascinated by the African continent and African cultures, so I traveled south as soon as I could after finishing my first degree, a BA in Peace Operations, Conflict Management and Mediation in 2005.

In the area surrounding Johannesburg, SA, I volunteered for about one-and-a-half months in a center for HIV-affected children. Then I went back to Italy to finish my studies, earning an MA in International Cooperation and Non-violent Conflict Transformation in 2008.

While working on my MA, I cooperated with a Togolese NGO (non-governmental organization) in Lomé, Togo, called The Precious Hands, helping them with project design and short assessment missions.  I eventually moved to Lomé where I followed the start-up phase of a project dealing with women’s empowerment through food processing and cooperative work.

After Togo I moved to Zambia where I worked as a project manager for one-and-a half years for an Italian NGO called SVI.  We promoted sustainable development at the grassroots level through agro-forestry techniques and women’s empowerment (literacy classes and income generating activities); we were working hand-in-hand with the local communities, and I spent much of my time in the bush facilitating meetings and coordinating activities and trainings. During this experience, I applied for the Rotary Fellowship to refine my skills in terms of conflict management rather than pure development work.

Before joining the Rotary Peace Fellowship Program in September of this year, I was able to fit in a year, starting in September of 2012, as Head of Delegation for the Italian Red Cross in Haiti, which provided me with an opportunity to gain more knowledge. The challenging environment required me to balance the performance of my tasks relating to capacity building activities within the Haitian Red Cross and its projects in Community Health and Psychosocial Support on one hand, while developing successful working relationships with partners and beneficiaries on the other hand.

We asked each Peace Fellow two interview questions.  Here are Caterina’s answers:

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

Future developments, in general terms, are quite difficult and tricky to foresee, especially when it comes to such composite fields like conflict. This phenomenon is highly complex, multifaceted, and multi-causal. Its presence or absence is then inevitably the result of the interaction among multiple factors, such as local socio-economic and political structures, global power relationships, regional security, perceptional dynamics, and many others. Optimism is crucial to continue working in peace-related sectors, but it needs to be constantly balanced with factual results.

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

a)    Genuine engagement with and involvement of local actors and resources in building positive peace;

b)    Complementarity among initiatives aimed at building peace in order to consistently address the different dimensions affecting conflict outburst;

c)     Training and education, especially of youth, to mainstream non-violent techniques of conflict transformation.

Caterina summarizes her ongoing interests as, “…combing my skills in mediation with my capacities in training and my passion for Africa in order to enhance local peacebuilding potentials and resources in one of the most challenging actors of the next future: the African continent.

It is amazing that Cate, as she prefers to be called, still has time for what she describes as “extracurricular” activities.  These activities and interests that are also important in her life include:  volunteering for the Red Cross (first aid trainer, ambulance rescuer, lifeguard, International Humanitarian Law Qualified Advisor), reading, fire-walking, parachuting, bungee-jumping, and white water rafting.

Thank you, Cate, for sharing the story of your very exciting path in life so far which has brought you currently to service as a Rotary Peace Fellow.  Your life is rich with interest and inspiration, particularly about being a proactive learner both in and out of the academic environment.   We hope you will keep us apprised of your work and insights as you go through the Rotary Peace Fellowship and beyond, most probably in, as you describe it, “one of the most challenging actors of the next future:  the African continent.”

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.

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.

September 14, 2012

Rotary – Creating the Next Generation of Peacemakers

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world:
Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”
– Margaret Mead

The idea of education as a way to foster peace is an old one.  But putting it into practice on a global scale through a private organization is groundbreaking.  The Rotary Foundation has been a pioneer in creating an effective curriculum of peace.

Rotary_Peace_Fellows in the fieldRotary began as an idea more than 100 years ago. Today, the organization flourishes worldwide with 1.2 million members in more than 200 countries and geographical areas.  The Rotary Foundation was created in 1917 and its mission is to advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through the improvement of health, the support of education, and the alleviation of poverty. In 1987-88, the foundation held its first peace forums, leading to the establishment of it’s peace and conflict studies programs.

Today, the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International has partnered with leading universities around the world to provide a unique fellowship opportunity for students to receive a master’s degree in international relations, sustainable development, peace studies, conflict resolution, or a professional development certificate in peace and conflict studies. Rotary Peace Fellows go on to become leaders promoting national and international cooperation, peace, and the successful resolution of conflict throughout their lives, in their careers, and through service activities.

Voices For Peace from Rotary International on Vimeo.

Rotary Peace Center partner universities include:

Alumni of the program work in a variety of areas, including grassroots and local nongovernmental organizations, national governments, the military, law enforcement, and bilateral and international organizations such as the United Nations, World Bank, International Organization for Migration, and Organization of American States. Alumni also benefit from the support of a worldwide network of close to 700 alumni committed to building peace.

  • Fellowship funding includes
  • Tuition and fees
  • Room and board
  • Round-trip transportation
  • Internship (master’s degree) or field study expenses (professional development certificate)

A sustainable foundation for peace starts with a proven process for teaching each generation the skills of peace-making and conflict resolution.  The Rotary Peace Fellows program is showing us how to make this a reality.

For information about how to become a Rotary Peace Fellow, please visit the Rotary website at www.rotary.org/rotarycenters.