EDUCATION FOR PEACE .
An article from the Costello School
Twelve Year 10 Costello students attended a pioneering conference at Winchester University exploring human rights for indigenous people. They welcomed a special guest, Nobel Peace Laureate Rigoberta Menchú Tum from Guatemala. In 1992, Rigoberta Menchú Tum was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of efforts to improve the rights of the Mayan of Guatemala and native people everywhere. She was the first indigenous person to receive the award. During the 30 years of dictatorship, war and violence that followed the 1954 military takeover 200,000 Guatemalans were murdered. Rigoberta helped her father organise resistance, and, despite losing both her parents, two brothers, a sister-in-law and three nieces and nephews to the violence, persevered with the search for a peaceful way to resist military oppression.
The two-day conference held at The University of Winchester, and organised by Peace Jam UK, welcomed around 250 delegates including secondary school students from all over the UK.
Throughout the weekend, the Peace Jam conference discussed Nobel Peace Prize winners and various themes including identity, difference, power, privilege, peace and non-violence in an increasingly complicated world.
Early on in the conference the audience were invited to ask Rigoberta questions and Joe Duerden made a real impression when he asked Rigoberta “As the next generation of humans, how can we tell our world leaders to treat our world with peace rather than violence?
Students were also given the opportunity to present their local community projects to an audience, as part of the One Billion Acts of Peace movement – a fundamental element of the academic Peace Jam programme. Some of the students learnt about a scheme called “Roll out the Barrels”,
In Africa and developing countries around the world, women and children carry their own weight in water, in dirty jerry cans and containers, not just from a local pump (a few hundred yards away) but sometimes over 6 miles or even further, just to survive – “Roll out the barrels” provides a simple solution!
Other students visited Hyde Gate Residential home and spent time talking to residents and taking part in activities with them whilst others went onto the streets of Winchester to talk to young people about the Street Reach Community Project.
The Conference had a huge impact on all the students and they are setting up a Costello Peace Jam group in the summer term with the aim to launch our own contribution to the Billion Acts of Peace campaign! For as Rigoberta told the students, “We all have energies and if we combine these energies we can make a difference!
All of the Costello students would like to say a HUGE thank you to the Basingstoke and Deane Rotary Club who so kindly sponsored their trip and without whom this opportunity may not have been possible!