By Summer Lewis, Rotary Peace Fellow and coordinator of the Rotary-Institute for Economics and Peace Partnership
It’s not often that you get to spend International Peace Day, 21 September, surrounded by more than 30 Nobel Peace laureates and 1,200 young peacebuilders. But thanks to my network of connections with Rotary Peace Fellows, I was able to do just that and bring 30 Rotaractors, Rotarians, and Peace Fellows from the United States, Mexico, and Colombia with me to the 17th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates.
Former Peace Fellow Lauren Coffaro, director of Global Programs for the PeaceJam Foundation, and I met back in 2014 and reconnected during the Rotary International Convention in Hamburg, Germany. Her organization connects Nobel Peace laureates to youth, and she mentioned the Nobel Peace Laureates Summit was taking place in Mérida, Mexico, near where I live. She invited me and those involved in the Rotary and Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) Positive Peace Workshops to attend. It would be a chance for these young peacebuilders to learn from Nobel Prize laureates and meet others working towards peace.
I had less than two months to organize 30 delegates from three countries. So I started by contacting Rotary Peace Fellows, Rotarians, and partners from IEP who were involved in Positive Peace Workshops in Mexico and Colombia: Jorge Meruvia, Carlos Juarez, Amparo Buendía, and Rigo Ciceri. They helped find stellar young peacebuilders who wanted to attend the summit and present on Positive Peace in their communities.
Pillars of Positive Peace
In addition to the Peace laureates, several international celebrities attended the summit. They presented in massive panels, sometime with thousands in attendance, describing how peace intersects with gender, the arts, economic development, tourism, and more. One of the best things about the summit was an intensive youth program, Leading by Example, where our delegates got to work directly with the laureates, while networking and collaborating with other young peacebuilders.
Our delegation put their training from the Positive Peace Workshops into action by hosting an interactive workshop attended by 80 people about the Pillars of Positive Peace and how these pillars intersect with our daily lives.
“We went from being students of Positive Peace to teachers, sharing with the rest of the Summit how to create Positive Peace in their communities,” said Selene Esquivel, a Rotaractor and participant in the 2019 Mexico Positive Peace Workshop.
The power of connection
The opportunity to connect young leaders with Nobel Peace laureates and other peacebuilders doesn’t happen often. But it does speak to the power that Rotary has to bring together people who are committed to a common cause.
Peace is something not just relegated to young leaders, Rotaractors, or Rotary Peace Fellows – it’s something all Rotarians can get behind. This is why the Rotary and IEP partnership exists: to provide tools for Rotary members to use in order to take action around (Positive) Peace.
In the words of the Nobel Peace laureates: Everyone can make a difference – our daily actions matter.
You can be a peacebuilder in your community. Start by joining the Rotary Positive Peace Academy.