On Saturday, November 24, PeaceJam Northwest Regional Affiliate Director Darren Reiley came from Oregon to meet with high school students at Gateway Los Angeles to teach them about PeaceJam, an international organization with a special mission. While explaining the purpose of PeaceJam, he engaged the students into various, physical activities to demonstrate the importance of collaboration and compassion, two essential skills that every Nobel Peace laureate possess.
In addition, the students tackled topics they personally cared about, such as mental health, bullying, and global warming, and proposed different methods that could help resolve the issues. Director Reiley emphasized the positive mindset of hope, so that no member would lose their determination in times of despair but continue to work toward change. Leaving the room as new ambassadors, the passionate students were now given the mission to spread the message of PeaceJam in their communities, such as creating clubs at their schools, and to bring positive change to the world.
PeaceJam was founded in 1996 by Dawn Engle and Ivan Suvanjieff “to create young leaders committed to positive change in themselves, their communities and the world through the inspiration of Nobel Peace Laureates who pass on the spirit, skills, and wisdom they embody.” Today, fourteen Nobel Peace Prize winners are dedicated to the cause: the 14th Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Rigoberta Menchú Tum, President Oscar Arias, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Betty Williams, José Ramos-Horta, Tawakkol Karman, Sir Joseph Rotblat, Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Kailash Satyarthi, and Leymah Gbowee. In addition, students are invited to PeaceJam Youth Conferences, where they attend workshops, participate in service projects, hear Laureates speak about their work, and present their projects to the Laureate.
In September 2006, the 10th anniversary of its foundation, PeaceJam issued a Global Call to Action, initiating the One Billion Acts of Peace campaign to address the ten greatest challenges of the world: Education and Community Development, Protecting the Environment, Alleviating Extreme Poverty, Global Health and Wellness, Non-proliferation and Disarmament, Human Rights For All, Ending Racism and Hate, Advancing Women and Children, Clean Water for Everyone, and Conflict Resolution. Believing that “average, ordinary people can tackle the toughest issues facing humanity,” Engle and Suvanjieff called for the youth to use their skills and resources to commit acts of peace, big or small, anytime and anywhere.
As of now, 57,656,984 acts of peace were created by students from all over the world in their local or global communities. Such acts include simple things, like picking up trash and donating money, or even bigger projects for the whole neighborhood to be involved in, such as yoga classes for children with ADHD and autism and water conservation efforts in an apartment.
Millions of youth all around the world, including me, have come together through PeaceJam to influence and bring change to the world for the better, so that every human can live in comfort and peace. As Mairead Corrigan Maguire once stated, “People of all ages are very capable of doing tremendous, courageous things in spite of their fear.”
Noorim Oh, Grade 11
North Hollywood High School