Teens meet for statewide Peace Summit

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(Host) High school students from around Vermont will gather on the Goddard College Campus on Saturday to attend a statewide youth Peace Summit. The purpose of the day is to educate and encourage young people to put their ideas about peace into action.

VPR’s Susan Keese reports.

(Keese) The summit is sponsored by the Vermont Peace Academy. The academy was launched in 2002, inspired in part by a bill in Congress proposing a cabinet-level Department of Peace. The bill calls for the establishment of a National Peace Academy to teach and study peacemaking..

The Vermont Peace Academy has held a number of educational events. This one was organized by students and teachers who’ve participated in those programs. Sixteen year old Aaron Voldman of South Burlington is among the organizers.

(Voldman) “I think that a lot of members of our generation have adopted this idea that if you talk about peace, that you’re not thinking realistically and you’re wasting your breath. And I think a lot of teenagers, they think of the word peace and they don’t really understand how they can create this. Like, they can see it but they don’t actually understand how they can create it in their community, how they can create this internationally.”

(Keese) The summit will include workshops on nonviolent communication, the nature of conflict, and a variety of global issues. Speakers include Audrey Kitagawa, a special advisor to the UN Office of Children and Armed conflict. Also speaking is Vermont Lieutenant Governor Brian Dubie, who’s a colonel in the Air Force Reserve.

(Dubie) “We have a world filled with tension and I think it’s imperative that we think about reducing that tension and building that understanding and building communication and work in a way that acknowledges there are differences in culture, but to work to find areas of common interests and work together.”

(Keese) Dubie says he supports the Vermont Peace Academy because it’s a vehicle for such activities. He says it’s a big job, but you’ve got to start somewhere.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Susan Keese.

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