William Woods Helps Students’ Dreams Come True

Most high school students idolize rubbing shoulders with rock stars and television personalities. But others have dreams of solving real world problems with true life heroes: Nobel Peace Prize winners.

Through its role as the Heartland Region Affiliate for PeaceJam, William Woods University made it possible for 31 students and 13 adults to participate in PeaceJam’s 10th Anniversary Youth Conference at the University of Denver over the weekend.

The youth-oriented conference featured 10 Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, including South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Tibet’s Dalai Lama, Costa Rican President Oscar Arias and East Timor’s Prime Minister Jose Ramos-Horta. All won Nobels for their work toward non-violent change in their respective countries or regions.

Three students from Fulton High School, as well as 28 students and 13 adults from other parts of Missouri and Kansas had a life-changing experience at the event.

In recognition of its growing regional role, William Woods University has continued to develop programs that involve service to the greater community. This began with the establishment of the Office of Faith and Service in 2004 and the establishment of the Office of Service-Learning and Civic Engagement in early 2006.

Continuing on this path of community outreach and service, William Woods became the Heartland Regional Affiliate of PeaceJam in summer 2006. In this role, WWU is responsible for administering the PeaceJam program in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and southern Iowa.

WWU will host a PeaceJam Slam on Oct. 20. This one-day conference will provide opportunities for students to learn about peaceful problem solving and civic engagement while they discuss issues originating from the Nobel Laureates’ “Global Call to Action to the Youth of the World.”

The Call to Action, issued at the 10th anniversary event in Denver, urges youth and adults alike to address pressing world issues that lie at the heart of violence and instability in the globalized world.

The Global Call to Action, issued by José Ramos-Horta on behalf of the laureates, included 10 fundamental problems that are at the root of much of the suffering in the world.

These issues include unequal access to water and other resources; racism and hate; the spread of global disease; extreme poverty; social justice and human rights for all; rights for women and children and their role as leaders; environmental degradation; nuclear weapons and the international arms trade; disarming our armed consciousness; and the focus on human security to create true security.

At the PeaceJam Slam event in October, the Heartland Region will announce the Nobel Peace Laureate who will serve as the region’s focus for the 2006-2007 academic year. Students will study the life of the Laureate, the problems that he or she endeavors to address, and complete curriculum activities on the topics of non-violent problem solving, peacemaking, and related issues.

Students then implement service-learning projects in their communities that solve real-world, pressing problems.

In April, the students will return to WWU’s Fulton campus to spend the weekend with and present their projects to the Nobel Laureate. The two-day PeaceJam Conference will be followed by a public talk co-sponsored by WWU and the University of Missouri.

CUTLINE: Scott Miniea, Heartland Region affiliate director for PeaceJam, with Iranian Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi and Julia Vargas, PeaceJam Consultant, at the PeaceJam 10th Anniversary Conference in Denver.