American inventor Charles Kettering said “Keep on going, and chances are you will stumble onto something, perhaps when you are least expecting it. I never heard of anyone ever stumbling on something sitting down.” On a Saturday in May 2016, I got off my tail, visited a neighboring Rotary District Conference and stumbled upon NewGen Peacebuilders, a movement led by Rotary Peace Fellow Patricia Shafer. That Saturday meeting with Patricia was the spark for NewGen Peacebuilders in our Rotary District.
NewGen Peacebuilders is a program that centers on peace and conflict resolution, a Cause for Rotary Action. The program forms a cohort of college or high school students through application & interview. The program provides a series of weekend workshop/retreats, independent study and webinars covering conflict resolution, human rights, gender & race equality using nonviolent communication, conflict transformation and peacebuilding techniques. Students form teams based on passions for issues – then apply techniques towards team peace education projects. Peace education projects, like service projects, begin in the Community. Think Global Act Local. The result was peace education projects in communities like yours.
The program attracts those destined for international exchange, ambassadorial scholars, even Peace Fellows along their paths of diplomacy and world understanding. We in Rotary expect to see these students again – each is worthy of our support.
Rotary District 7570 introduced the NewGen Peacebuilder program to college and university students in September 2017. Our charter class of 21 students gathered from five Virginia Campuses including Mary Baldwin, James Madison, Washington & Lee, Virginia Tech, and Bluefield College. An amazing cohort! Meet our Charter Students in this “DG Moment” Video.
Weekend Workshops were held at Washington & Lee University. The workshops were led by Rotary Peace Fellows and NewGen Co-Founders Patricia Shafer and Phil Gittins. Students were assisted by a passionate group of District 7570 Rotarian Mentors having conflict resolution experience and skills, led by Bluefield Rotarian Assaad Mounzer. Lexington Rotarians provided lodging and meals for students.
Classes involved facilitated group discussions…
Students selected and justified the most meaningful events towards peace:
Students unbundled major current issues using The Conflict Tree. Check out this Basic Conflict Tree Explanation Here
Teams formed based on passions for various Core Issues. Teams then set out to better understand the Core Issue components through Mind Mapping
Real-time research, data mining and mentor guidance resulted in a deeper understanding of the Core Issue.
….followed by discussion and synthesis of group peace education project proposals….
Well considered team projects resulted. For example, one project called Keep It Clean: Water Quality Awareness and Advocacy addressed the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and water quality in Staunton, Virginia. Check out the short presentation Here
Another Project called Connected Across Culture: Facilitating Refugee/Police Dialogue – created a cross cultural awareness program including the Sudanese Community and Police in Harrisonburg, Virginia, resulting in new dialogue among 40 Sudanese Adults, 11 Children and five Officers. Check out the short presentation Here
NewGen Peacebuilders has a place in our Cause for Peace & Conflict Resolution, and we look forward to expanding the program within our District and introducing the program to Rotarian friends beyond our District – hopefully next in Beirut Lebanon.
Consider “stumbling” into NewGen Peacebuilders. You will meet amazing young adults and become more aware of community issues. Contact Me for more.