Goodall Shares the Spirit of Peace with Teens Around the World
with a moment of silence for all those around the world who
are suffering, Rick Ulfik, founder of We, The World,
commenced a videoconference located in a room at the UN not
much larger than a Manhattan studio apartment. It was convened
by We, The World and the Department of Public Information
of the United Nations in association with the International
Confederation of Free Trade Unions and the Vermont Peace Academy.
Over three hundred high school and college students in Vermont
and Iowa were linked together with the United Nations where
Jacqueline Murekatete, an eighteen-year-old Rwanda genocide
survivor, joined several other youth representatives from the
Share the Spirit of Peace Youth Summit and the Vermont Peace
Academy co-founded by Nina Meyerhof and Jon Schottland.
featured speaker for this event, which was moderated by Audrey
Kitagawa, Advisor for the UN Office of the Special Representative
of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, was
Dr. Jane Goodall, a UN Peace Messenger and Founder of the Jane
Goodall Institute for Wildlife Research.
Videoconference Series, Building Peace and Security in the
21st Century, was being convened in recognition of Interdependence
Day proclaiming either “co-existence or no existence”, which We,
The World launched in September 2002 at the World Summit
on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, and
the UN-designated International Day of Peace, which occurs
every twenty-first of Sep-tember.
focus of this event was to ex-plore peace education, youth
involve-ment with peace building, and sustainability as practices
of conflict prevention. After Jacqueline Murekatete was finished
telling of the horror that took place in Rwanda when her entire
family was abused and killed in the genocide, a student from
one of the linked high schools innocently asked the date of
the Rwanda genocide. The student’s question indicated that
schools are putting current events like these on a back burner.
saw a lot of evils,” Murekatete stated: “People getting killed,
kids dying in front of me, children crying for their mothers.” After
Murekatete learned the news that her entire family was brutally
murdered, she put her resentments about the rest of the world
aside and came to the United States where she was adopted by
her uncle, forced to quickly learn English, and ultimately
enrolled at SUNY at Stony Brook. She now speaks in schools
and other community gatherings with a man who survived the
Holocaust, carrying the message of peace by sharing her story
with passionate honesty. When asked by students of one high
school what they could possibly do to make the situation better
she answered simply, “The best thing you can do for me is to
educate yourselves so that this doesn’t continue to happen.”
conference continued with increasingly compelling stories being
revealed. A young woman from Yugoslavia, along with her
family, sought to escape the terror of their country by moving
to the United States expecting a life of peace and security.
The day they arrived, approximately one half hour after their
plane landed in New York City, the first World Trade Center
was struck down. It was the unforgettable morning of September
Weeks told of his life growing up in Liberia and how after
witnessing six-year-olds being trained for the army, realized
something had to be done. As early as high school, Weeks knew
he had to stop the robbery of childhood. He, too, devotes much
of his life to traveling around the world to educate youth.
Oran Cohen from Israel takes a slightly different approach.
Although also active in the education for a peaceful world
movement, Cohen doesn’t just focus on children and young adults
in hopes of making a difference. He is involved with a youth
organization that arranges for Palestinians and Israelis to
sit in a room together and talk about anything besides politics. “This
helps them to relate on a human level,” Cohen says. “Each one
always thinks they know who the other is, but they don’t. So
they talk about common interests and hobbies and get to know
each other as human beings instead of religious or cultural
Jane Goodall, the last speaker of the day, said, “I travel
three hundred days a year and meet people who often wonder
how they can make a difference. In a world of six billion people,
what difference can one person make? One person actually does
make a difference just by the choice of where they buy clothes.” Goodall
commented that we should focus less on whom not to support
and focus more on who to support and how we should treat each
other on a daily basis. “Chimpanzees have taught us a new respect,” she
continued, “In many ways they are more civil with each other
even when they are fighting.” Stressing the importance of wisdom
over intelligence, Dr. Goodall emphasized that the ultimate
goal is to be able to find a way to live in harmony with the
world. And who better to begin this process than children?
videoconference is just one step We, The World is taking
to educate and inform students around the country with the
objective of an improved future. By carrying the message of
peace around the world, these youth organizations, and advocates
such as Dr. Jane Goodall, begin the process so desperately
needed for safe and healthy lives deserved by all who travel
this world. As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Those who
love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who
more information or to get involved with We, The World visit www.WeTheWorld.org.
Update, Inc., P.O. Box 1588, New York, NY 10159.
Tel: (212) 477-5600. Fax: (212) 477-5893. Email: email@example.com.
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