Angelina Winbush as a former member of the American Friends Service Committee’s (AFSC) Racial Justice Through Human Rights youth group had the opportunity to be part of the Nobel Peace Laureate summit in Warsaw Poland in September of this year. Angelina is a first year student at Allegheny College studying global health. Here are some of her reflections on the experience.
“Each day I spent in Warsaw brought with it a hectic yet incredible itinerary, packed with lectures, workshops, and forums. The start of each day began with a congregation of the public, Nobel Peace Laureates, and Civic Academy members in the grand Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw. This magnificent building was home, for three days, to a series of remarkable panel discussions that included opinions from laureates such as Lech Walesa, the 14th Dalai Lama, Frederik William de Klerk , Shirin Ebadi, Muhammad Yunas, Betty Williams, Peter Lansky-Tieffenhall (UN Representative), and Mairead Maguire. The topics of the panel discussion ranged from Inequalities in Social Justice to Standing in Solidarity with Peace. My favorite of which being session 2: Human and Social Values in the Time of Crisis, in which I had the opportunity to listen to Maidread Maguire, a peace activist whom I admire greatly. Succeeding the sessions each day was a lunch, provided by the Civic Academy. I looked forward to this time as a time to meet and connect with youth from all across the world, all who share a passion for peace and social justice.
One interesting workshop I attended, People Power for Nuclear Exits, was led by Dr. Tadatoshi, the former mayor of Hiroshima. Dr. Tadatoshi, in the past decade, has done an incredible amount of work to bring understanding to the dangers of possessing nuclear weapons. Currently, Dr. Tadatoshi is proposing the idea of a Nuclear Exit Summit for the year of 2015. Dr. Tadatoshi has crafted a set of sufficient conditions needed in order for nuclear disarmament to take place. Prior to attending this lecture, I must say that I knew little about nuclear weapons but I feel as if I have been given a new perspective on the intricate role nuclear disarmament plays in obtaining peace.
With me in Warsaw was a wonderful, diverse group of AFSC workers and volunteers. My roommate, Annie is also in college majoring in English; however her passion for social justice and peace is very strong. Throughout the trip most of us bonded closely with each other and spent the evenings exploring Warsaw and trying out delicious bites from the Polish cuisine.
One distinct conversation I remember clearly occurred after Annie and I had attended a workshop, led by an anti-hunger organization. Although we were both impressed with the dedication of this organization, we pondered whether organizations such as these truly aid in decreasing world hungry. From my perspective, I see the root cause of hunger being poverty. We also discussed how anti-hungry organization may not be directly tackling the root program. Earlier in the day, Muhammad Yunus, a Nobel Peace Laureate who created a renowned system for acquiring microloans in Bangladesh, spoke one of my favorite quotes which is, “You can give a man a fish and feed him for a day, or you can teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime.” Although metaphoric, Annie and I believe this powerful statement that should be applied to all areas of humanitarian work as providing people with an education is one of the most powerful tools.
This trip to Warsaw once again make clear to me the power one individual can have in changing the world. Most of the laureates I heard from are people from everyday backgrounds who voiced their concerns about injustices they saw and then went on to lead extraordinary lives of peace. Mairead Maguire, one of my heroes, was personally affected by the violence in Northern Ireland. Devastated by what she witnessed, Mairead Maguire set out to put an end to the violence and killing in her home country. Now, Mairead Maguire has become a world advocate for non-violence training and is now inspiring millions as she continues her work in Syria, actively supporting the non-violence movement.
I cannot express in words how grateful I am to have received this opportunity. Memories from Warsaw will stay with my throughout my entire life and each day, I think back to the incredible friendships, inspiration, and hope I gained. Pokoj! – Peace in Polish”