Friday, April 19, 2013

Organizations team up to shed light on peace and reconciliation

By Reland Tuomi, News Writer

The final event for Communication and Theatre (COTH) week took place in the Mary Baker Russell amphitheater the night of April 11, where about 30 students gathered to learn about conflicts in the world.
On the amphitheater stage, members of Campus Ministry had placed cutouts of all seven continents and marked different cities and countries on them. These markings signified places where a high amount of conflict takes place.

Before the event began, organizers gave students electric candlesticks, intended for lighting, and electric tea candles. The tea candles had a slip of paper taped to them on which Campus Ministry had written the name of a peace-building organization.
The event began with Minda Jerde, a senior and co-sponsor of the event, explaining the efforts of the Carter Center, a non-profit founded by former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn. Jerde said the center works to provide an alternative for official mediation in countries in Africa and other parts of the world.
After telling the audience which countries the Carter Center helps move toward peace, Jerde asked the members of the audience who had the tea candles with “Carter Center” written on them to place the candles somewhere on the paper globe. This act literally shed light on different global issues.
The process repeated itself three more times, and the sponsors of the event discussed the Nansen Dialogue Network from Norway, Corrymeela in Northern Ireland and the Fellowship of Reconciliation in the U.S.
“We wanted specific [peace building] organizations and [to] highlight what they were doing,” Chelsea Paulsen, senior and vice president of Network for Peacebuilding and Conflict Management (NPCM), said. “We chose the Fellowship of Reconciliation because it is local.”
An NPCM committee member, junior Rachel Espasandin, said “we also chose the Nansen group because they have a dialogue with PLU.”
When asked what NPCM wanted students to learn from the event, sophomore Anne-Marie Falloria, an NPCM committee member, said there are positive organizations who work to manage conflict and solve problems instead of just focusing on the problems. Falloria also said the media often portrays only the negatives.   
“Conflict doesn’t just occur in underdeveloped countries,” Espasandin said. “Be aware of reconciliation and peace building around the world.”