The Louisiana Rotary Club, under the leadership of President Bart Niedner, hosted two World Peace Scholars this week as they presented programs on bullying prevention and peace building to local student leaders in Louisiana.
These internationally-trained peace-builders provided inspiring, world-class training in peace-building to the students. The opportunity for local youth to meet and work with these impressive individuals who have dedicated their lives to world peace was unparalleled.
In 2002, Rotary created the Rotary World Peace Fellow program, to offer Masters Degrees in Peace-Building and Conflict Resolution to individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to humanitarian service. The degree program is operated in six prestigious universities, including University of Queensland, Australia; Bradford University, England; International Christian University, Japan; and a combined program at Duke University and University of North Carolina. To date, nearly 800 Peace Scholars have graduated from these universities. Graduates of the program are working all over the world, resolving conflicts and building peace.
The two Scholars who spoke in the schools were Maria Morell and Peter Paul Opata.
Morell has a Master’s Degree in International Peace and Conflict Resolution; International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan (Rotary Peace Fellow). She is an attorney in Cordoba, Argentina, working in prevention and prosecution of sexual crimes, and the protection of victims. Her legal specialization is Child Protection. Previous work involved serving as the legal officer of minors and juvenile courts, where she worked extensively with children as both instigators and victims of violence. Maria has also provided support and training to child refugees and trafficked children in Southeast Asia and Japan.
Opata has a Master’s Degree in African Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Bradford, UK (Rotary Peace Fellow). He has worked as a program coordinator for students in Uganda – promoting abstinence and faithfulness, and Peace building among students and the wider community.
He currently works for the Uganda Catholic Secretariat in Kampala, Uganda, as the department head of their HIV/AIDS outreach program. His encounters with the young survivors of the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) rebels in Northern Ugandan and his own personal encounter at the age 14 with the Lakwena rebels in the mid-80’s inspired him to always seek peaceful co-existence among all peoples.
The team will present an overview of peace-building and conflict avoidance and resolution practices to local adults on Thursday, April 17. The program will be given, free of charge, in the Louisiana High School library. It will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will last approximately one hour.
The session will include insights gleaned from working with the local students, and suggestions on fostering peace-building at home.