Tag Archives: peace

Reflections from Trip Leader Katie Wallace

It’s the second to last day of the trip, our last day of work and just hours before our fiesta de despedida (farewell party). I’m sitting here overwhelmed by what we’ve seen, heard and done here in Guatemala in the previous two weeks.

As I prepare to head back to Seattle I begin to imagine what I’ll take home from Guatemala (aside from handmade earrings and hundreds of digital photos). I have memories of the steep, exhausting hill we climbed each day en route to the construction site. I have mental images of the lush hillsides, the cobblestone streets in Antigua and the beautiful smiling faces of the guatemaltecos that we greeted in every passing. I’ll carry with me new relationships, stronger relationships and a greater sense of peace than I had when we left.Above all these images and memories I am leaving with the desire to research. I want to know even more about Guatemalan history and politics. How can the current President of Guatemala be responsible for the murder of hundreds of thousands of people? How was this former General elected by Guatemalans in 2011? This leaves me with feelings of disbelief, frustration, anger and wonder.

Learning is not measured by the number of pages read in a night or by the number of books read in a semester.
Education is not an act of consuming ideas, but of creating and recreating them.
– Paulo Freire

The most valuable and eye-opening experience has been spending time talking with my host brothers, 21 and 18, after dinner. Their wealth of knowledge about Guatemalan history and their passion to raise awareness about politics (of the past and present) are impressive and motivating. My older host brother has led large scale protests in Guatemala City, and my younger host brother won a speech contest while we were there. He spoke in the central park in Antigua about acknowledging Antigua’s true history. I am in awe that there is such little acknowledgement of the genocide and corruption that have taken place in their country. I have never personally known young adults so angry and yet genuinely convinced that change on a large scale is possible and attainable. I look forward to learning more, and I hope that they will continue to inspire youth in Guatemala and from the U.S. to learn and take action in their communities and on a global scale.


Distinguished Peace Diplomats Visit GV in Guatemala

Fontana, Zahn, and McDermott at Construction Site in Santiago Zamora

Mark McDermott (brother of U.S. Representative, Jim McDermott) and Diane Zahn, two accomplished and very well-respected human rights activists, visited Global Visionaries during our recent spring trip to Guatemala.

Mark, who currently serves as the regional representative for the U.S. Secretary of Labor, and his wife, Diane, were highly impressed with the depth of the work that Global Visionaries is doing.

The couple played an active role in this year’s trip, which proved to be a priceless addition to the student experience. Mark and Diane took the time to visit our school construction site in Santiago Zamora, as well as the Coffee work team.  In addition, they participated in the group viewing and discussion of “When Mountains Tremble”, a documentary based on the Guatemalan Civil War.  They encouraged conversation and made it a point to hear the stories and experiences of both Guatemalan and U.S. youth.

The insight that they provided was invaluable to the trip and we cannot thank them enough for their participation.

Mark and Diane will be joining Global Visionaries at the 2011 Fiesta de Guatemala Auction in further support of our programs.

Landlessness, Hunger and Social Change in Guatemala

Maya Q'eqchi elder evicted from his home. Photo credit to: Tum Tul

Written by Camron McDonald

On March 15, 2011 more than 1,000 police and soldiers showed up in the Polochic Valley of Northern Guatemala.

They were there to evict more than 3,000 Q’eqchi Maya Indians living on land claimed by a Guatemalan agribusiness firm.  Many of these families have been living on and tending to this land for thirty years.

According to Danilo Valladares, writer for the Inter Press Service, security forces burnt or bulldozed the peasants’ shacks and destroyed their subsistence crops with machetes and tractors. One young man was killed in the scuffle and many others were injured.

Now, close to 800 families have been left homeless and without access to the land they need to grow food to eat. Continue reading Landlessness, Hunger and Social Change in Guatemala

Global Visionaries Looking to Fill Spots for Intensive Program

The GV Intensive Program is perfect for students who want the leadership experience but don't have the time.

Are you a Seattle-area high school student interested in participating in GV’s Leadership Program and Guatemala experience but simply do not have the time?

If the answer is yes, we have the perfect opportunity for you!

The Global Visionaries Intensive Program is a condensed version of our highly successful year-long leadership development program. Through this experience, students will explore issues of social justice, participate in international service opportunities and develop leadership skills rarely given to today’s youth. Continue reading Global Visionaries Looking to Fill Spots for Intensive Program

Peace Studies: A Major Youth Leaders Should Consider Pursuing

Written by Tim Takechi

We’ve all heard about giving peace a chance. But how about earning your degree in it?

Some universities across the world offer a Peace Studies major; a degree that sounds nice but inevitably brings up this question:

What the heck are you going to do with that?

According to the Princeton Review, “Peace Studies includes the analysis of peace movements, arms control and nuclear disarmament, peace activism, and conflict resolution.”

Peace Studies, in short, is a major designed to study methods to create a more peaceful and just society. Intrigued? Read on.

Those studying Peace Studies will come across the popular idiom “nonviolent conflict resolutions,” a practice of applying principles of civil disobedience, international development, foreign policy, the history of armed conflict, economic theories and practical applications to the real world.

In a world full of violence, it seems appropriate for institutions of higher education to offer courses teaching ways to make our world more peaceful. Is there no better way to make a positive global impact than to spread the peace?

Students studying peace and nonviolence will find themselves in an interdisciplinary major, meaning they will take courses from a variety of departments ranging from history, international relations, political science, philosophy, sociology, psychology, economics and communications. Some universities may offer a Peace Studies minor that works within a larger department.

But that pesky question always comes up. What the heck can you do with a degree in Peace Studies? Are there any jobs out there searching for graduates of that specific major?

Whitworth University, a private Presbyterian college located in Spokane, WA, offers a B.A. in Peace Studies within the Political Science department. The department’s goal is to “prepare students for careers in government and politics, law, humanitarian work, teaching, research and peacemaking, and for work in related fields such as business or missions.”

Similar to students studying political science, a Peace Studies degree can lead to careers in the private, public or international sectors.

“Career” aside, the ultimate purpose of studying peace and nonviolent conflict resolutions is to do just that: Create peace and resolve conflicts. This is a hands-on discipline where theories are put into practice, according to College Board, an educational assistance association.

For example, how can the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. apply today in nations like Libya, Egypt or Bahrain? How about here in the United States? How can certain economic and development policies empower people in the developing world to create a better future?

If these questions sound familiar, they should.

Essentially, any student going through Global Visionaries’ Leadership Program or Global Leadership Class is learning this stuff already!

But you can only learn so much in one or two years. In today’s world, a student passionate for being a change-maker needs something else in addition to a fiery heart: A four-year degree from an accredited university.

This is where being a Peace Studies major comes in handy. There is no guarantee that you will get your dream job, but a degree helps. Popular majors like Pre-Law, Public Policy, Business and Management may give you more practical experience in the day-to-day operations of your field, but an interdisciplinary degree offers many benefits:

You receive a broader perspective of your world, field and vocation.

You won’t feel constricted academically by being limited to one department.

You feel the pride of belonging to a hippy dippy major!

You can network with other people, professionals and experts with similar passions to you.

This is not an endorsement that all youth leaders should search for colleges offering a Peace Studies degree. This article is just to inform you that this option exists. If you want to change the world but would like to study something else, go for it.

But this is an opportunity that is always available.

The Rodnita Movement: A GV Student’s Vision of Peace

Garfield High School student and GV participant Rodnita Alexander has a challenge for each and every one of us:

Spread the peace.

Rodnita has taken GV’s mission to heart and wants to create a more compassionate world one person at a time.

So what is the Rodnita Movement?

“In the beginning I had no idea this program would be so powerful. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Participating in GV has made me want to create the Rodnita Movement,” Rodnita said.

Rodnita was one of two speakers at the 2011 Winter Dinner fundraiser that ended up raising $7,000 for the Spring Trip.

“My movement would display multi-cultural peace,” she says. 

Rodnita encourages all of us to embody social justice with these personal challenges:

  • Being accepting of other cultures
  • Giving to those who are less fortunate
  • Stepping out of your comfort zone and reaching out to all people
  • Using your voice for those who can’t speak up for themselves

Rodnita says it all began after she got to know her fellow GV students. Throughout her life she had become used to being let down by people, which made her skeptical of trusting others.

But after attending GV’s Culture Nights and the student retreat, she began to feel more comfortable with her peers. Not having a cell phone or iPod to hide behind at the retreat “forced us to talk to each other and get out of our comfort zones,” Rodnita recalls.

By having real and in-depth conversations with each other, a culture of trust was established between the GV students. This experience gave Rodnita a whole new perspective.

She is excited about moving forward with her inspirational movement.

“I want to change lives in Guatemala, here in Washington and to spread it throughout the world. Take the Rodnita Movement abroad,” Rodnita said.

How can you remain indifferent by this young leader’s ambition to change the world through a message of peace?

We can all learn from her desire to create a more compassionate world. You can do your part immediately by spreading the Rodnita Movement today.

Photos courtesy of Kathleen Wareham.

Innovation Is Not as Important as You Think in Solving Today’s Social Problems

We live in the 21st century. So why does the Guatemala City Garbage Dump still exist?

Written by Tim Takechi

What exactly does the word “innovation” mean?

Think about how often you’ve heard the words “innovative solution” in regards to solving the world’s problems.

Information technology (IT) companies promise innovative thinking when fixing your computers. Environmental engineering firms say they’re developing products that will pioneer the 21st century green movement. The latest government official in charge of education has some great new plan to boost test scores. Each new smart phone is smarter than the previous model.

You get the idea.

But what does it all mean? Humankind has walked on this earth for centuries. The historical roots of technology, society, and politics are not far behind. Hasn’t every good idea been thought up yet?

In a word: maybe. In two words: maybe not.

It seems “innovation” is a commonly misunderstood concept. Truly original ideas are very hard to come by. Just look at every movie you’ve ever seen. Isn’t everything just a rehash of something that came before it? Think about it.

Global Visionaries prides itself on developing young people to become future leaders of our planet. The Global Leadership Class instills in high school kids an ethic of philanthropy and thinking on a global scale.

One important aspect of our leadership training is encouraging young people to think about “innovative” ways to solve society’s challenges. See? There’s that word again. So what do we mean by this?

“Innovation” doesn’t mean coming up with new ideas. It means finding a new spin on old ideas.

Look at the social media-inspired political revolution that just happened in Egypt. At a grassroots level, young people were able to organize demonstrations to protest President Hosni Mubarak’s authoritarian rule. He resigned two weeks ago.

Some political analysts have called this event a turning point in global politics. Though Facebook and Twitter did not singlehandedly bring down Mubarak, it marks one of the first times in history that web communication played a significant role in creating large-scale political change.

But when you look at it, how is this any different from anti-war pamphlets that circulate during every major conflict? Or media moguls William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer rousing pro-war sentiments during the Spanish-American War? Or the Washington Post exposing Richard Nixon’s role in the Watergate cover-up? Or Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses on a church door to protest the Catholic Church? The list goes on.

For good and bad, history has shown that what happened in Egypt has happened before. “New” forms of political activism aren’t really new. They’re just a revised version of what’s been done in the past with obvious technological improvements.

There’s an old saying that “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” But that famous quote ignores the other side of history: learning about its successes.

Not all history is doom and gloom. Some of the greatest ideas ever conceived were thought up by people who have been dead for hundreds of years. Just read the writings of Henry David Thoreau to see how much he influenced great modern historical figures like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi.

So if you’re depressed about the present (and dreading the future) and don’t see anyway that mankind will survive, don’t freak out if that great “innovative” idea doesn’t come to you.

Odds are, that idea has already been written down somewhere. It’s your job to find it.

Celebrate the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with Global Visionaries

Join GV as we march from Garfield High School to Downtown Seattle in a march of solidarity.

Dear GV community,

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is this Monday, January 17th, and Global Visionaries is uniting with the greater Seattle community to celebrate Dr. King’s work toward racial equality, economic justice and nonviolence.

We invite you to join GV for a workshop, a rally and to walk in solidarity with us during the MLK March this Monday in Seattle. The day’s events will be as follows:

Workshop from 9:30 a.m. – 11 a.m.

Rally at 11 a.m.

This year the Rally program at Garfield High School will be moderated by Chynna Williams and Fletcher Bailey. There will be special performances by the Leschi Elementary Choir, El Centro Children’s Choir and PNW Drumline/NW Tap.

The MLK Celebration Committee will also honor the life, work and legacy of a longtime Committee member, the late Mr. Roberto Maestas. Roberto Maestas was a strong social justice advocate and founder of the Latino community center El Centro De La Raza, the building that hosts the GV office.

March at noon.

The 2011 MLK Day March route will begin at Garfield High School and conclude at the Henry M. Jackson Federal Building at 915 2nd Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101.

We would love to see you at the rally and march this Monday. If you would like to march with GV, please meet us in front of Garfield High School at the corner of 23rd Avenue and Cherry Street on the Cherry Street side at 10:50 a.m. Garfield HS is located at 400 23rd Avenue Seattle, WA 98122.

Please join Global Visionaries as we make a stand for social justice and celebrate the life and work of Dr. King. If you know you will attend, RSVP to Sophia Gardner at sophiagardner@global-visionaries.org so we know to look for you at the rally. If not, feel free to just show up. We will see you there!

Thank You

“The problem of racism, the problem of economic exploitation, and the problem of war are all tied together. These are the triple evils that are interrelated.”

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Remember to Serve Your Community this MLK Day

Think of MLK Day as a “Day On, Not a Day Off.”

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is this Monday, January 17, 2011. As the first national holiday of the year, it is also the national MLK Day of Service in honor of the esteemed social activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the MLK national holiday and a perfect time to remember the milestone achievements of the civil rights movement. We should also look ahead to what we can still do to work toward Dr. King’s dream of building a socially just world.

Show your appreciation of Dr. King’s vision and all he did for modern day civil rights by getting out in your community and making a difference! In honor of this great man and his legacy, this time around think of it as a “day on, not a day off.”

Click here to find local volunteer opportunities for the national service day.

If you’re interested in more details about Dr. King, the Seattle Times has a website featuring his biography, a timeline of his work and achievements, and photos.

Don Robert Muller

Written by Chris Fontana

In July, 1992, I finished Love, Medicine and Miracles by best selling author and Oncologist, Bernie Siegel, M.D. It made a profound impact on me. A week later, my brother, Joe Fontana and I boarded a plane in Miami headed for Costa Rica. To my left, an older man with a strong German accent engaged us in five hours of riveting conversation and stories.

He told us of Arkansas Quakers in 1949 who fled the U.S. following six months in jail after refusing to enter the draft for the Korean War. Some 60 family members made it to Costa Rica, [which had just been demilitarized by José Figueres] following six months of driving; in an effort to protect their watershed, they inevitably created one of the largest and most important and largest private biological reserves in the world [Monteverde].

On and on he enchanted us with stories, each more inspiring than the last, until he pulled out a list of books he had written—one of which I recognized from the supplemental reading list from Love, Medicine and Miracles. It was titled: Most of All, They Taught Me Happiness.

“I just read Bernie Siegel’s book and remember your book! I said incredulously.

“Ah, Bernie Siegel and I are good friends”, the man in the window seat said, “long ago, he came to hear me speak about a story I tell about a Frenchman in the French resistance in World War II.

“I just read that story in Bernie Siegel’s book!” So I told my brother, Joe that story:

A Frenchman, Louis Parizot, was tipped off that the Gestapo was coming for him. He quickly climbed the four stories of the building he was in and realized it was too high to jump. He was trapped; he contemplated his imminent death. He relaxed his mind and suddenly, in this meditative state, an idea occurred to him. He wet his hair with water from a vase, removed his glasses and smoked a cigarette. The Gestapo had strip searched the three floors below him when he calmly walked down the stairs to greet the Gestapo.

His secretary, realizing what he was up to, remarked,  “These men are looking for Louis Parizot—have you seen him?”

He responded: “I was just speaking to him a moment ago upstairs.”

The 12 Gestapo agents ran up the stairs as he walked down the four stories escaping unharmed.

“That was me, I am Louis Parizot” said the man sitting next to me on the plane. “After World War, I entered an essay contest for newly created organization called ‘United Nations’ and won. After 38 years there, I retired as the Under-Secretary General so that I could found the University for Peace—the first University for Peace on the Planet!”

My brother, Joe, and I, flabbergasted, accepted his invitation to visit the University for Peace and it began a special friendship. Robert’s friendship changed our lives forever.  From this “fated” plane ride, many stories worthy of telling, begin—for one–the story of Global Visionaries.

Robert – your work has touched the lives of millions. I am deeply grateful for your presence in our lives and for your vision. Most of all, thank you for your eternal optimism.

The following are Excerpts from Dennis J. Kucinich, (D) Ohio, who entered these thoughts into the Congressional Record September 2010; Vol. 156

Madam Speaker, I rise today in honor and remembrance of Dr. Robert Muller, a lifelong champion for peace who served humanity tirelessly throughout his life.

Born in Belgium in 1923, Dr. Muller was raised in the Alsace-Lorraine region of France where he experienced unrelenting political and cultural turmoil. During World War II he was a member of the French Resistance and was imprisoned by the Germans during the Nazi occupation. In 1948, he won an essay contest with his entry about how to govern the world. The prize was an internship at the newly created United Nations.

The internship set him on a life path that led to 38 years of work behind the scenes at the United Nations where he rose to the official position of Assistant-Secretary General, serving three Secretaries General.

In 1986, Rodrigo Carazo, the President of Costa Rica, proposed that Dr. Muller become the chancellor of the UN University of Peace in Costa Rica of which he was the co-founder.

His deeply spiritual understanding of our planet and the life that graces it led him to create a “World Core Curriculum” which is taught at 34 Robert Muller Schools around the world. The Curriculum earned him the UNESCO Peace Education Prize in 1989 and the honorary title of “father of global education.” He also received the Albert Schweitzer International Prize for the Humanities and the Eleanor Roosevelt Man of Vision Award.

He was a prolific writer, having published fourteen books in various languages, including “2000 Ideas and Dreams for a Better World”, in which he proposed concrete, visionary ideas designed to create a peaceful and harmonious planet.

Madam Speaker and Colleagues, please join me in honor and remembrance of Dr. Robert Muller, who will be deeply missed. I offer my heartfelt condolences to his entire family and to his many friends. Dr. Muller’s life is one to celebrate, as he lived it with a generous heart, a true joy for living and unwavering love for is family, friends, colleagues and our beautiful planet.