Approximately 50 young people will converge on William Woods University Friday (Oct. 20) as part of the PeaceJam program, dedicated to inspiring a new generation of peacemakers in today’s youth.
The participants will represent six Missouri school districts, including Fulton, Springfield and four in the Kansas City area.
The Nobel Laureate for this year’s program will be announced during this “PeaceJam Slam.” The teenagers will then spend the year studying about the Laureate.
William Woods University is the headquarters for the Heartland Region of PeaceJam, which serves the youth in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa.
The organization operates with the collaboration of WWU students, faculty, staff and partners. WWU students help serve as mentors for the youth, and the program gives high school students an opportunity to learn innovative community problem-solving skills while spending time on a college campus.
PeaceJam serves to connect the lives of high school kids to those of Nobel Peace Prize winners, such as the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. It is a year-long international education program built around passing on the spirit, skills and wisdom of
peacemakers to the youth of today.
Scott Miniea, affiliate director, said of these famous peacemakers, “They were average people who did something extraordinary. And there is a lesson to be learned in that.”
PeaceJam’s goal is to impart that lesson to the youth.
Following the PeaceJam Slam on Oct. 20, the participants will return to their own communities to put into practice what they have learned. They will participate in service-learning projects throughout the year that make use of the lessons learned from studying Nobel Laureates.
When they meet again at WWU for the PeaceJam Youth Conference, they will
present their work to a real Nobel Laureate.
While in Missouri, this Laureate, whose identity has yet to be announced, will also give a talk at the University of Missouri. The talk will be free and open to the public.
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.
Katie Finley, junior at William Woods, was drawn to PeaceJam because she is an education major. She saw her experience as a PeaceJam mentor as another way to work with students and hone her leadership skills.
“It was such an amazing experience and it really allowed me to make a difference with the youth,” she said. “The younger participants got out of PeaceJam the ability to converse with other people on a deeper level. They also developed the ability of being able to think about the future and how their actions and thoughts of today are really able affect the future either positively or negatively.”