Seniors Eliana Winderman and Courtney Moles, two students of Peace and Justice Studies, won distinctions this past year.
Winderman was chosen from among hundreds of applicants to participate in UNESCO’s sixth annual International Leadership Training Program held at the University of Connecticut, Aug. 6-14, 2010.
UNESCO hosts this annual inter-generational forum to bring together young leaders from around the world for training in the field of human rights. All forum participants are provided with resource materials (i.e. website/listserv information), certificate of participation, lodging, meals and ground transportation.
“It was long and intense,” Winderman said. “I was one of the youngest people there. Everyone else had graduated already, were going to law school or were already running an NGO.”
Participants were divided into action plan groups to create a project demonstrating their commitment to human rights. Winderman’s group consisted of people from Serbia, France, New Zealand, Morocco, Tunisia, Bahamas, Fiji, Rwanda, Thailand and the U.S.
Winderman’s group decided to found an NGO called Dear UN which would provide a forum for letters from children making re- quests to the UN for things like clean water, justice, food, a voice and clothes.
“What we have been doing is conducting workshops in different areas of the world and having children express what kind of support they want from the UN,” Winderman said. “At the end of the year we are going to compile all the photographs, drawings and letters and we are going to mail it to UN representatives.”
After the program concluded Winderman spent a semester abroad in the Amazon.
“I got the opportunity to stay at indigenous reservations while I was there and so I conducted workshops with indigenous communities,” she said. “I conducted these in Portuguese and asked the children what
they wanted from their governments.
They would draw pictures of their land, the earth and butterflies mostly.”
On Nov. 13, 2010, the North Carolina Peace Action and Witness for Peace South- east hosted a Young Peacemaker contest in Raleigh, North Carolina where Moles presented her collage.
“I didn’t know what I was going to do,” Moles said. “I had a concept and then I got the idea for a collage. I cut out 4 or 500 pictures and looked through them and then came up with the concept of a tree-woman. It’s as tall as me, 5’2”. It has a big cloud head and the body is a tree. I went to Raleigh on my own. I made this collage and drove there. There was a reception. Every- one gave a presentation. Everyone talked about their pieces. Then there was a break and then they announced the winners. I was surprised I won because the other girls were art majors.”
The contest accepted essays and artistic expression responding to the prompt “How could tax money being used for war be re-directed to meet human needs? Since 2001, the US has spent $1.09 trillion just in Iraq and Afghanistan. What are we really sacrificing by pursuing military solutions around the world? What would your answer be?”
Moles’s artwork placed second in this contest, winning her $300. Her piece was titled “Nuclear Mother Earth.” Moles used the award to help fund a trip to an ecovillage in coastal Auroville, India over winter break.