William Woods University is the new Heartland Region headquarters for PeaceJam, an international program that unites youth with Nobel Peace Laureates such as the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu.
As the Heartland Region affiliate, WWU will serve a four-state region. Using extensive partnerships, PeaceJam curriculum training will be provided to high school and elementary teachers.
High school “peacejammers” will be eligible to attend two events each year that will be held on William Woods University’s main campus in Fulton.
PeaceJam, in its 10th year of operation, 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 serving as the director of PeaceJam’s Heartland Region affiliate at WWU, the timing was ideal for William Woods to assume the leadership for the Heartland Region.
WWU hosted a successful PeaceJam event last April that involved approximately 150 high school students from Missouri and Kansas and 10 WWU student mentors. The response was so positive, that William Woods decided to seek full affiliate status.
Previously, the Heartland Region had been served by a non-profit organization in Kansas City called the National Conference for Community and Justice. In 2005, NCCJ was forced to terminate its affiliate status due to financial constraints.
William Woods University is consulting with Julia Vargas, the former affiliate director for PeaceJam, to ensure program quality and continuity.
The PeaceJam Foundation is hosting an international 10th Anniversary Celebration in Denver in September, which will include approximately 50 students, mentors and their adult allies from the Heartland region.
The celebration will involve the largest gathering of Nobel Peace Laureates ever assembled in the United States, and will feature opportunities for students to do service-learning projects alongside the Nobel Laureates and to hear keynote speeches and dialogues between the Laureates.
During the celebration, the Laureates in attendance will issue a Global Call to Action to the Youth of the World. Miniea expects this to serve as a guide to peacejammers as they choose service-learning projects that have not only local, but also global impacts.
In October, William Woods University will host a PeaceJam event for high school students. Violence, racism and tolerance, as well as responsibility, service-learning and peace building, and the life work and peaceful methods of a Nobel Laureate, will be topics for discussion.
Called PeaceJam Slam, the event will be open to groups of students and their adult allies in the Heartland Region (Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and southern Iowa) who are interested in learning the PeaceJam curriculum.
The WWU event will be a one-day conference bringing students together to report on service-learning projects, attend leadership training workshops and prepare for the next PeaceJam Youth Conference.
After the PeaceJam Slam, students will put into action peace plans, which include service-learning projects and civic engagement activities in their own communities that make use of the lessons learned from studying the Nobel Laureates.
The PeaceJam Youth Conference will take place at William Woods next April. The youth conference will feature one of PeaceJam’s Nobel Peace Laureates who will work with the students and their William Woods student mentors during the two-day event. Approximately 200 students and sponsors are expected to attend the PeaceJam Slam and PeaceJam Youth Conference on campus. Twenty-four William Woods students will serve as mentors. For many of the high school students, coming to WWU represents their first experience on a university campus.
“It is a rare opportunity to expose high school students, some of whom might not consider college an option, to learn a little bit more about university life,” Miniea said.
At the conference, participants will interact with the featured Nobel Peace Prize Laureate through question and answer sessions and presentations from the laureate. Students also will have a chance to present their plans for initiating positive change in their communities directly to the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.
When the participants are not interacting with the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, they will be engaged in many different activities. These activities will include a variety of leadership workshops, meetings in small groups with youth from different schools, team building games and more. The youth also will participate in a service project in Fulton.
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 Menchú Tum, Máiread Corrigan Maguire, Betty Williams, Jody Williams, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Jose Ramos-Horta and Shirin Ebadi.
Each has received the Nobel Peace Prize between 1977 and 2004 for peacemaking efforts in such places as South Africa, Costa Rica, Guatemala, East Timor, Kenya, Argentina, Tibet, Northern Ireland and Iran.
Miniea expects the PeaceJam events 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 events, 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, help to 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 Miniea at (573) 592-1633 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.williamwoods.edu/peacejam.