By Nicole Colchete, CEI Intern
What Is PeaceJam?
Examples of PeaceJam’s Global Success
One reason why PeaceJam is so influential is because it impacts schools on an international scale so that compassion and diversity education is being taught to students from all different countries, cultures, and ethnicities. Here are examples of its success from all over the world:
James S. Rickards High School (Tallahasse,Fl) uses PeaceJam to instill civic engagement, peacemaking skills, and the understanding of social justice issues in its students. At James S. Rickards High School, students select a civic engagement project and work towards accomplishing it throughout the year, with different relevant lessons and concepts being discussed along the way.
This club presented their project, which was a Peace memorial built around their school’s campus, to Nobel Peace Prize Winner Rigoberta Menchu.
Students were touched and ecstatic when Ms. Menchu signed their wall.
Teachers reported being beside themselves at the wisdom, compassion, and connection they see between students in the club each year.
Anatolia College (Thessaloniki, Greece). In Greece, bullying is not a commonly accepted topic discussed among educators, which made implementing anti-bullying programs nearly impossible, as there tended to be a lot of resistance from students and parents. However, PeaceJam was still able to be successful in a Greek School because it teaches qualities that combat bullying by teaching qualities and skills that eliminate bullying behavior.
The engagement, insight, and kindness that I saw from my students in the club speaks to how impactful diversity lesson plans are on a student’s ability to think deeply and empathetically about their actions.
My students were dedicated and passionate about the club’s mission, and they became inspirational themselves.
The European PeaceJam Initiative (Netherlands and Belgium) aims to implement PeaceJam in schools across Europe by having Nobel Peace Prize Laureates visit the schools and inspire students along the way with discussions and interactions that students will remember for the rest of their lives.
Sirin Ebadi and Jody Williams visited 10 schools in The Netherlands and Belgium to speak about PeaceJam and their journey, and to start the club at each school they visit.
There was an overwhelming amount of student interest and engagement in PeaceJam as a result.
Through Sirin Ebadi and Jody Williams, students felt empowered to address issues that they were most passionate about, while learning about issues that can drive resentment and violence and learning about how to take these situations and use them to spur right-based, inclusive, and non-violent social action.
PeaceJam also gives students to opportunity to engage with other inspiring Nobel Peace Prize winners, such as
Oscar Aris-Sanchez, former President of Costa Rica who was pivotal in bringing peace to Central America
Jose Ramos-Horta, a former President and Prime Minister of East Timor who fought for freedom from oppression, developing a peace plan that resulted in withdrawal of Indonesia from East Timor
Mairead Corrigan Maguire, a peace activist in Northern Ireland
Betty Williams, also a peace activist in Northern Ireland, and President of World Centers of Compassion for Children
Adolfo Perez Esquivel, an artist, writer, and activist who defended human rights in Argentina
Sir Joseph Rotblat, a Polish-born British physicist who promoted nuclear disarmament
Aung San Suu Kyi, a Burmese diplomat and politician who led the opposition to a military junta and worked to establish a democracy in Burma
Leymah Gbowee, a Liberian Peace Activist who led a women’s peace movement, Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace.
By having outstanding people like Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, and Betty Williams teach students and connect with these students so personally, students are able to see that one day they can be just like them. When students feel better about themselves and their future, they will be much less likely to partake in bullying. The lessons taught by PeaceJam also inspire students to try to understand the people around them, rather than taking out their frustrations on others.