High School Peacemakers to Assemble at WWU

Violence, racism and tolerance, as well as responsibility, family and community, will be topics for discussion when William Woods University hosts a special event for high school students on April 28.

Called PeaceJam Slam, the event will be open to students in the Heartland Region (Missouri, Kansas and parts of Iowa and Nebraska) who are interested in attending the 10th Anniversary PeaceJam Conference in Denver next September.

The WWU event is a one-day conference bringing students together to report on community service projects, attend leadership training workshops and prepare for the next PeaceJam.

PeaceJam is an international education program built around leading Nobel Peace Laureates who work personally with youth to pass on the spirit, skills and wisdom they embody. The goal is to inspire a new generation of peacemakers who will transform their local communities, themselves and the world.

According to Scott Miniea, who is coordinating the event at WWU, approximately 120 students and sponsors are expected to attend the conference on campus. Twenty-four William Woods students, primarily social work and education majors, will serve as mentors.

The Rev. Travis Tamerius, university chaplain, will deliver the keynote address: “From Africa, With Love: The Struggle for the Soul of Zimbabwe.” Based on his recent trip to the African country, he will tell about people struggling in a land “mired in political corruption, tottering on the brink of economic collapse with widespread social unrest and a growing health crisis.”

During the day, students will attend sessions exploring the issues of violence and peacemaking, as well as perform service projects and participate in team building games.

Students must attend a PeaceJam Slam to be eligible to attend the PeaceJam in Denver Sept. 15-17. A number of Nobel Peace Prize winners are committed to attending the fall PeaceJam and interacting with the students.

The Dalai Lama, who will be one of the participating Nobel Laureates in Denver, said, “I truly believe that individuals can make a difference in society. Since periods of great change such as the present one come so rarely in human history, it is up to each of us to make the best use of our time to help create a happier world.”

Other Nobel Laureates involved are Archbishop Desmond Tutu, President Oscar Arias, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Betty Williams, Jody Williams, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Jose Ramos-Horta, Bishop Carlos Felipe Ximenes Belo and Shirin Ebadi.

Each has received the Nobel Peace Prize between 1977 and 2003 for peacemaking efforts in such places as South Africa, Costa Rica, Tibet, Northern Ireland and the Middle East.

Miniea expects the PeaceJam Slam to benefit both the William Woods students and the high school participants.

“William Woods students have the opportunity to serve the greater community through the PeaceJam Slam event, while learning valuable academic curriculum and leadership skills,” he said.

“By learning about the Nobel Laureates, WWU students will be prepared to lead teams of high school students in the PeaceJam curriculum, facilitate a service project during the event, and share their college experience with their younger counterparts.”

Miniea added, “If the college students have a good learning experience during this event, they will be able to take that experience in leadership and service with them onto other endeavors, including service-learning projects in the local community.”

For more information, contact Scott Miniea at (573) 592-1633 or scott.miniea@williamwoods.edu.