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The Student Association for Communicating Sustainable Peace and Development

We want peace and love for all

We gather with Lambert to talk about the year’s efforts. Nine students are having a meeting to finalize the statutes so that they can be officially approved as a University of Ngozi (UNG) association. I ask about what they have done over the past twelve months. Elias, the Club’s President, insists that “this work is important. It’s what we learned in class with you last summer. Another says that “we have a hard period in the nation with wars and injustice. It’s been difficult for the young. We want peace and love for all. We want to prevent any violence like what we had in the past.”
 
Still another adds that “working together is a sign of unity and love. We must prove first to others that we can work together. We are the future.” One of the two women present insists that “students are seen as intelligent and able to communicate to others who may be illiterate. We can help find solutions for our country’s problems.
 
“Our interpreter for the Amohoro Project, Lambert Ndikomana, teaches languages and communication at UNG and has served as the Club’s staff contact for the past year. He’s been most impressed by the students’ sense of initiative. “These are mature students. It’s not up to me.” In response, one student offers that Lambert has played a useful role being nearby and offering advice. We feel free with him. We are sure that the University is with us. They think about our future.”
 
On Wednesday evening, June 14, the Association hosts a “feast” to welcome their “supporter” (over the past year I had sent $USD50 each month to support their efforts), list their accomplishments, and enjoy some beer, Fanta, Coca Cola, cheese and meatballs. This is the first “feast” for a student association at UNG. There are some fifty Club members present and many are wearing the official tan T-shirt with the white dove in a circle and “Sustainable Peace and Development” written around the outside. The UNG and Colorado State University (CSU) logos are at the bottom. They sit on two sides of a head table that seats six, with a bright basket of fake red flowers in the middle.
 
Others are wearing green CSU “Cross Country Track” T-shirts or CSU Basketball shirts of different colors and designs, gifts from my own University. I feel that I could be on my own campus, or at least in the athletic areas where there are many more dark skinned students than in the general student population.
 
The Master of Ceremonies (MC), Dedionne, has his T-shirt under his suit. The other two officers present, Elias and Celestin, also wear very nice suits with their Club T-shirts underneath. One of the members brought a stereo system that plays in the background and gets turned down when someone is offering comments to the entire group.
 
The MC starts the event by asking the Rector (Provost and priest) to say a prayer. Then one of the core females from the group in class that formed the very first Association recited an original poem, short and sweet, that drew much applause. The Association’s President, Elias, then spoke, acknowledging those at the head table and describing what they had accomplished throughout the year. The Rector says a few words about the importance of the Association and that the University is dedicated to peace and reconciliation.
 
In between each speech is an interlude of music and more beer, Coca Cola, or Fanta. I am asked to say something. I tell them that I am honored to be there, that they inspire me. I note how much Burundians can teach Americans about moving toward peace after years of war. I am honest about my love of country but how opposed I have been to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, that Americans have gone insane with their exorbitant military expenditures despite the protection of oceans on both coasts and friendly neighbors north and south.
 
After three hours we adjourn with many hearty handshakes, some quite elaborate as is the style among the young. It is so inspiring to be among people who have come through so much violence and are so clear about the importance of moving toward sustainable peace and development.


William M. Timpson, Ph.D, is a professor in the School of Education at Colorado State University (CSU). After receiving his Bachelor’s degree in American History from Harvard University, Bill went on to teach junior and senior high school in the inner city of Cleveland, Ohio before completing a doctoral degree in educational psychology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Along with numerous articles, chapters, and grants, he has written or co-authored ten other books including Stepping Up: College Learning and Community for a Sustainable Future (2001) and 147 Tips for Teaching Diversity (2005). Bill has also had direct experience working for peace in Northern Ireland, South Africa, Eastern Europe, Guatemala, India, Nepal, and Australia, and in 2006 he served as a Fulbright Senior Specialist on peace and reconciliation studies at the UNESCO Centre in Northern Ireland.

Learn more about the International Network for Sustainable Peace and Development at http://peace-development.colostate.edu

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