Sisters share a passion for peace

Katrina (left, second row) and Summer (center) in 2009 with members of MarketPlace India, a fair trade textile cooperative based in Mumbai.

Katrina (left, second row) and Summer (center) in 2009 with members of MarketPlace India, a fair trade textile cooperative based in Mumbai.

By Summer Lewis, a 2010-12 Rotary Peace Fellow, University of Queensland

My sister Katrina and I grew up overseas with our mom, an international educator. Between the two of us, we have traveled, lived and worked in 57 countries.

Katrina is a design professor. I am committed to fair trade and small-scale farmer development. We like to say that Katrina got her start playing with boxes as a kid, and I began cultivating my passion for grassroots development in the garden.

After beginning my Peace Fellowship at the University of Queensland in early 2011, I suggested that Katrina apply for the professional certificate at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand. As a professor of Interior Architecture and Product Design at Kansas State University, Katrina had been asking her students to research and design shelters and products addressing global issues ─ poverty, disease, environmental destruction and humanitarian crises. The fellowship gave Katrina a greater understanding of how design can promote social change, peace and security. She shares this insight with her design students, fellow designers, and educators.

I began working with a Guatemala women’s textile cooperative in 2004. I continued supporting small-scale producers through Equal Exchange, a fair trade coffee, tea and chocolate cooperative business in Boston, Massachusetts. My Master’s studies focused on trade, development, smallholder farmers and commodity value chains, with a special emphasis on coffee. After graduating, I traveled through Burma, Laos, Thailand, Timor-Leste and New Zealand, meeting with Rotarians, Rotary Peace Fellows, agricultural and economic development organizations and coffee producers and projects. I am currently on the hunt for opportunities to support small-scale farmers and cooperatives in accessing markets and improving livelihoods.

Being Peace Fellows and sisters, Katrina and I often get asked if peace runs in our family. We have fun together, are great travel buddies, and have collaborated on various projects. We were selected to attend and present at the “Teaching Peace in the 21st Century” seminar at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame in June 2013. But as anyone with siblings knows, things aren’t always perfectly peaceful. Let’s just say the mediation and conflict resolution skills we gained as Rotary Peace Fellows still come in handy from time to time!

4 thoughts on “Sisters share a passion for peace

  1. Pingback: Sisters share a passion for peace | Warsaw Rotary , Club 3393, District 6540

  2. Wow! Keep up the good work. you two are inspiring young women. It is so great for women in India to be around women like yourself, so they can start to see the possibilities for their own future. Do you know Hannah Warren and Jhoole? You guys have a lot in common and I could see you combining forces.

  3. Thank you both for all that you do. This is a great set of reflections, but there is a lot more that you apparently didn’t have space to mention: including the work both of you did in Bangladesh and Katrina’s work in Afghanistan. Best wishes.

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