By Lucienne Heyworth, a Rotary Peace Fellow at Uppsala, and Yuko Maeno, a Peace Fellow at University of Bradford
This year has been a momentous one for Rotary Peace Fellows at the Bradford and Uppsala Peace Centers. For the first time, 18 peace fellows met in the beautiful city of Oslo, Norway, for a three day program in January including action packed and ‘peace centered’ information and entertainment that left us enlightened. The purpose of this trip was to develop further collaboration between the two peace centers and to learn about Norway’s peace-building efforts.
Joined by local Rotary members, we toured a city packed with a proud history of supporting peace. One of the best-known Swedes, an esteemed inventor and philanthropist, the legendary Alfred Nobel, was the focus of much of our time as we visited the distinguished Nobel Institute of Oslo and spent time in the Nobel Peace Center Museum. We learned of the intricate selection processes to determine Nobel Prize winners and the establishment of the Nobel Prize. A visiting exhibit at the museum, ‘Targets,’ spurred interesting discussion of the use of targets in military training, with insightful first hand reflections from soldiers, snipers, and military personnel.
Personally, I (Yuko) was impressed by the photo exhibit. Herlinde Koelbl, the German photographer, visited military training camps in 27 countries. Her collection displayed the various targets which soldiers use to train for shooting. It included portraits of soldiers, who could possibly be a living target in the future. The exhibition gave me a chance to question why we still fight.
During a visit to Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we had a chance to discuss the country’s role in the ongoing peace process in Colombia. The deputy and assistant shared their experiences mediating several conflict resolution efforts in locations such as Sri Lanka and Colombia. Norway has a unique position in world politics, and it was impressing to learn about their contributions to peace, reconciliation, and development. We capped of our stay with informative talks about armed conflict, gender, and health at the Peace Research Institute Oslo.
The chance to exchange ideas with local Rotary members, who greeted us everywhere with hospitality and a keen interest in the Peace Fellow program, was priceless. It was also very fruitful to have the chance to interact with peace fellows from another center. Since we all have various working experiences and share a determination to contribute to world peace, we have a lot to learn from each other. I (Yuko) strongly wish this joint trip could be planned annually as it was one of the best experiences of the program so far.
We have sincere gratitude to all the Rotary members worldwide who support the Peace Center program and make opportunities like this possible.
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