Ending racism, building peace

By Geoffrey Diesel and Kathy Doherty, co-founders of the Racial Equity Project

The two of us met as Rotary Peace Fellows during the inaugural cohort of Peace Activators in North America. We made a commitment to provide training, education, and support to the Rotary family on the framework of Positive Peace. The initiative grew out of Rotary’s strategic partnership with the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), a global think tank dedicated to measuring Positive Peace defined as the “attitudes, institutions, and structures that uphold peaceful societies.”

Peace activators in the US were already addressing racism in this country, but the murder of George Floyd in 2020 served as catalyst for further action. In October of that year, we co-founded the Racial Equity Project (REP), a subcommittee of peace activators in North America, committed to studying ways to create a more peaceful society through antiracism.

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Peace research brings calm to chaos

Magnus Elfwendahl
Magnus Elfwendahl

By Magnus Elfwendahl, past governor of District 2350 and a member of the Rotary Club of Uppsala-Carolina, Sweden

Some months ago, I participated in the celebration of 50 years of Peace and Conflict research at Uppsala University in Sweden. During the anniversary symposium some prominent international scholars reflected on big societal challenges and the future of peace and conflict research. Experienced practitioners shared their thoughts on how peace and conflict research can contribute to policy and practical peace work. The keynote speaker, Jamie LeSueur, head of Emergency Operations of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), was a Rotary Peace Fellow during 2013-2015 when training for future peace work at Uppsala University.

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Rotary Peace Fellow reflects on Afghanistan, helping others in crisis

Kiran Sirah Singh at the International Storyelling Center in Jonesborough, Tennessee, USA.

By Kiran Singh Sirah, a 2011-13 Rotary Peace Fellow and president of the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, Tennessee, USA

The news coming out of Afghanistan has been painful to watch. So many of these images of suffering — the cargo plane filled with refugees, and especially the image of the baby being passed over barbed wire to a soldier — reminded me of my own family’s experience as refugees. Forty-nine years ago, they were forced to flee their home in Uganda along with 50,000 others, when a murderous dictator threatened them with genocide.

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Rotary Peace Fellow sheds light on minorities in Japan

Farrah Hasnain and her friends at the Hamamatsu Festival.

Farrah Hasnain

By Farrah Hasnain

My aim is to change my students’ perception of the U.S. There is a hegemony of whiteness in English language teaching, and I want to represent how diverse and multifaceted the American identity truly is.”

When I wrote this to enter The JET Program as a high school English teacher in 2014, I was not aware of how much this would impact my life in Japan. As I began to crack open textbooks, wake up sleepy students, and navigate the enigma that was the old-school Japanese copy machine, I slowly built a consciousness for the parallels that thrived in the rice fields and smoky factories of Hamamatsu, Shizuoka. Continue reading

Becoming a champion for Syrian youth

Champion School students fix a soccer goal and clean up a practice field.

Muyi Yang

Muyi Yang, Rotary Peace Fellow, Uppsala University, 2019-21

If you told me ten years ago that I would be running a non-profit school in a post-conflict country, I would have laughed out loud. At the time, I was working as a business representative for a commodity trading company, visiting clients and inspecting their coal mines.

Visiting one client, colleagues and I found several unbelievably young workers at several mines. Some of them looked even under 10 years old. The client admitted to us that the workers were indeed below the legal age to be working in the mines, but they were keeping it secret because, “what else can we do?” Continue reading

Top 10 ways to be a peacebuilder in the new year

A peace mural in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico. The mural is part of a project initiated in 2017 by Yesenia Uribe Rochel, of the Rotary and Rotaract Clubs of Juarez Emprende, which she helped to found in 2019. The project is designed to promote leadership, open minds, and develop resiliency in the community.

By Fergal McCarthy, Peace Programs Manager

Many people use the end of one year to reflect on things they would like to accomplish in the coming year. What better resolution than to sow the seeds of peace in 2021?

Peace underscores much of the work that Rotary members do in improving their communities around the world. Rotary’s peacebuilding initiatives seek to create environments where lasting peace is possible. Continue reading

Bearing witness to 75th anniversary of atomic bombings

Atomic bomb survivor Michiaki Ikeda speaks during the webinar “Bearing Witness from Nagasaki”

By Jaclyn McAlester, Rotary Peace Fellow at International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan

I grew up in New Mexico, USA. I doubt most people think of nuclear testing when they think of New Mexico, but that’s exactly where testing of nuclear devices of the same design as the atomic bombs detonated over Hiroshima and Nagasaki took place. The testing was conducted on 16 July, 1945. Less than one month later, atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima on 6 August and Nagasaki on 9 August. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the first and only time nuclear weapons of such magnitude have been used in armed conflict. Continue reading

Peacebuilding during a time of upheaval

Global Cyber Peace Conference

A delegation of 30 Papua New Guinea participants funded by the Evangelical Lutheran Church take part in the Global Cyber Peace Conference.

Elaine Pratley

Elaine Pratley

By Elaine Pratley, Rotary Peace Fellow

This has not been an easy year. I attended my first virtual funeral because of local lockdowns due to COVID-19. Friends have lost jobs and loved ones, and the news about the global recession remains bleak. And to think that it was only three months ago when I thought the Australian bushfires were the biggest disaster to hit us this year! I feel the word “upheaval” would be an understatement, but I cannot think of a better word.

As a peacebuilder, conflict is at the core of my business. Peacebuilders do not consider conflict as inherently bad but recognize its potential for growth and positive change. Continue reading

Finding common ground during the pandemic

Kiran Sirah Singh at the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, Tennessee, USA.

By Kiran Singh Sirah, a 2011-13 Rotary Peace Fellow and president of the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, Tennessee, USA

I’ve been having lots of inspiring conversations with my fellow Rotarians recently. As a Rotary Peace Fellow, I’ve found it so helpful to connect and brainstorm with my colleagues from the program. I think many of us individually and institutionally have had our thoughts crowded out by our focus on survival early in this crisis.

The question marks we all face remain overwhelming. But as we have talked with one another, it has shifted our attention on collaboration and supporting one another. We’ve been focusing on how we can help not just ourselves and each other in our own personal and professional circles, but also make a difference in the wider world. Continue reading

Honoring the mothers behind our Peace Fellows

Lea Yague leads an activity with the newly formed Rotary Club of Solana Moonlight.

Erika Isabel Yague

By Erika Isabel Yague, Rotary Peace Fellow at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

As Rotary Peace Fellows, we find inspiration when we take time to remember and recognize the people who support and motivate us in our work of pursuing a sustainable peace. For me, the principal person is my mom, the first woman that inspired me to live life in a way that would give back to the community. And given that May is the month of Mother’s Day, I felt it doubly fitting to talk about my mom as we honor the amazing mothers or mother figures we have in our lives. Continue reading