From Friday Feb. 26 to Sunday Feb. 28, Southwestern University was the host of the Student Peace Alliance National Conference. The Conference, entitled “Extreme Make Over: Peace in the 21st Century” entailed a series of lectures covering the subjects of international and internal violence and injustices along with activities designed to train the participants in the conferences to implement peaceful agendas into Government policy-making (called “advanced lobbying”) and the processes needing to bring peace to their communities.
Each of the three days of the conference covered different categories of focus for peace. Friday saw the focus of international conflict resolution with lectures on Afghanistan, violence in Uganda and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Saturday gave close attention to violence within the United States, focusing on the sources of gang violence and the consequences of juvenile incarceration. Sunday provided lessons on how to organize and train peaceful movements and agendas. All three days provided a plethora of speakers to bring insight and thought to their subjects in order to make these broad phenomena and processes relatable to the student participants.
“I heard a good quote, ‘it’s better to seem interested than interesting’,” said Dania Elghazali, 19, from Monterey Beach California when describing what she learned at the conference.
These participants came from all over the country. From Colorado, California, Idaho and nearly every other state, students flocked to Southwestern in order to learn how to change their world.
“There are still people interested in making peace happen…it’s electrifying,” Fabio Fina, the former SPA coordinator of Colorado and Florida said during the closing ceremony of the conference.
At the end of the weekend, the participants gathered in a circle in the Robertson Center, holding hands and singing songs of peace. After the songs, students were encouraged to hug each other in order to better remember what they had learned and felt during the conference. Lastly, in the most peaceful manner possible, students were asked to dance as they left to catch their planes home.