4 ways to be a disruptor for peace

Four peace fellows sit on steps outside the center
Rotary Peace Fellows at the Rotary Peace Center at Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda.

By Rebecca Crall, Areas of Focus Manager, Peacebuilding and Conflict Prevention

In a conversation recently with a group of professional peacebuilders, one of my colleagues (and a new Rotary member) surprised me when he referred to Rotary as a “disruptor for peace.” A disruptor for peace? That was something new and unexpected.

Disruption signals great change – change that’s happening fast. It often feels like it’s taking place at a dizzying pace, and it’s associated with chaos and displacement. It’s not something we often imagine wanting more of. But my colleague’s comment got me thinking of disrupting for good: using our platform as Rotary members to disrupt violence and create peace. Can we apply this idea to build a future where peace is our norm?

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Creating peace clubs in Nigerian schools

A women draws a cloud on a pink sheet of paper while several other people around a table watch
Participants of a workshop in Nigeria designed to prevent violent extremism among youth.

By Eyerusalem Azmeraw, Project Officer, UNESCO IICBA, and Pietro Uzochukwu Macleo, Chair of the Rotary Nigeria National Peacebuilding and Conflict Prevention Committee and Peace Chair for the Great Britain and Ireland – Nigeria Rotary Intercountry Committee

In February 2022, we joined together with other colleagues to organize a workshop in Nigeria on preventing violent extremism among young people. Conflict and violence have long been prevalent in the country, with youth recognized as having a role in preventing extremism. Our aim was to address violent extremism and its underlying causes among youth by strengthening the ability of teachers to deal with these issues.

Through a train-the-trainers model, we empowered learners to critically examine their beliefs, values, and knowledge in order to develop critical thinking. We relied on transformative pedagogy, a holistic educational approach that engages learners as whole persons in collaborative and participatory activities for peacebuilding. The approach creates a sense of interdependence and interconnectedness among people who are learning to live together.

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Stories from Santa

Bruce Templeton, a longtime member of the Rotary Club of St. John’s in Newfoundland and Labrador, has also been a member of the Santa Claus Hall of Fame since 2014. Geoffrey Johnson, senior editor at Rotary magazine, profiled Templeton for the magazine’s December issue. Here, in Templeton’s own words, are a few more stories from Santa’s gift bag.

Templeton dressed up as Santa Claus examines himself in mirror.
Bruce Templeton, aka Santa, a member of the Rotary Club of St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada, and the only living Canadian Santa in the International Santa Claus Hall of Fame.

In 1979 – when I was 34 – an aunt of mine, the head of crafts for our province, asked if I would appear as Santa at a child’s event. I told her I would think about it. I went to various places and looked at Santa suits. I didn’t like the looks of any of them, so I called her back and said “No.” And she said, “Bruce, if I make the suit, will you do it?” Well, you don’t turn down the director of crafts for your province. What arrived at my house were a suit made of velvet and lambswool, a beard made of real hair, and prescription glasses. It was absolutely flawless. And that was the beginning of my Santa journey.

When I started, I was acting as Santa. But over time, you become so comfortable in a room with children that you begin to believe that you are Santa. Your behavior changes. You’re aware that there are some very serious responsibilities that come with this. I grew into being Santa. It’s something that becomes a part of your life.

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Rotary Peace Fellowships impact thousands

Alejandra Rueda

By Alejandra Rueda, 2008-10 Rotary Peace Fellow, University of Berkeley

When I became a Rotary Peace Fellow in 2008, the presidential theme was Make Dreams Real. My dream was to support the Colombian countryside by improving the quality of life of farmers and, in turn, to achieve a more responsible use of nature and the ecosystem services it provides. I also wanted to help resolve the social conflict that Colombia has experienced. Or at the very least, to contribute to the development of projects that would spur economic and social recovery in areas that sorely needed it.

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Rotary members as provocateurs: building legacies in turbulent times

By Maiden R. Manzanal-Frank, 2015 Rotary Peace Fellow at Chulalongkorn University, Thailand

Portrait of Maiden Manzanal
Maiden Manzanal-Frank

The Rotary Peace Centers Program has truly transformed my life. After receiving a peace fellowship in 2015, my commitment to peace, human security, and development deepened further.

In my current role as a global impact advisor, I help organizations become more robust, sustainable, and effective in their missions. I draw upon two decades of work with social enterprises, rural women, cooperatives, home-based workers, farmers, artisans, health advocates, and local changemakers. Being based in Canada, I have made contact with all the Rotary clubs in Central Alberta, Edmonton, and Calgary (which I can reach within a few hours), regularly offering support and advice. I share my experiences as a Rotary Peace Fellow and promote the program every year.

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