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School of Diplomacy and International Relations

Diplomacy Students Inspired by Messages of Peace

Leymah Gbowee with diplomacy students.

Diplomacy students met with Liberian peace activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Leymah Gbowee, as part of the World Leaders Forum.

On November 14th, the School of Diplomacy and International Relations hosted Nobel Peace Prize laureate Leymah Gbowee as part of its World Leaders Forum. The forum is designed to serve as a place of dialogue where influential leaders can engage in meaningful conversations with students about pressing global concerns.

As part of the World Leaders Forum, students had a chance to speak with Madam Gbowee during a small group session prior to her public address. Ms. Gbowee acknowledged that just as war is costly, peace is even more costly and will come when people have their basic needs met, requiring us to approach situations with compassion.

Emmanuel Ogundele, a graduate student who participated in the small group discussion, shared that meeting Ms. Gbowee was inspiring. "Madame Gbowee was incredibly warm and friendly. I felt at home with her like she was a family member. To be able to have this sort of experience with a Nobel Peace Prize laureate is amazing. It was additionally an honor to meet someone from Africa who has worked tirelessly to bring peace to her country. Her insight on topics such as human rights, women’s rights, and the power of everyday people, particularly in the context of Africa, resonated with me as someone invested in the continent. Her message to recognize the humanity in each other is something that needs to be echoed throughout the world," he said.

Andrew Travis, a junior and student ambassador at the event, said: "Hearing Madam Gbowee’s speech inspired me to step back and question how I interact with people and strive for peace." He added that the experience was one he would carry forward in his academic career.

During her address at Bethany Hall, Ms. Gbowee stressed the importance of recognizing the humanity of others and focusing on commonalities rather than what divides us. "We cannot continue to operate in a world where we have lost our humanity," she said. "In order to solve the world’s most pressing issues, there must be dialogue across the table and a motivation to seek understanding as to why things are the way they are."

In a time of global turmoil, Ms. Gbowee’s words spoke to the desires of students not only to address global issues, but also to personally participate in the peace process.

Students found themselves impressed by her words and ability to reach her audience. "The charismatic nature of Leymah Gbowee’s address really resonated with me," noted graduate student Jaasiel Forde. "She was a great story-teller in her explanation of concepts of peace and reconciliation in a polarizing world. I left the forum really feeling that cultivating peace starts with me."

Fellow graduate student Khalifah Muhammad added that, "Being able to attend the World Leaders Forum was not only educational but rewarding at the same time. Hearing the words of Leymah Gbowee from her experiences helped reshape ideas and attitudes carried into that day by the current state of the world and left us with a renewed sense of hope for peace."

In addition to the World Leaders Forum, the School of Diplomacy offers a host of additional events each semester featuring international leaders. From lectures and conferences, to seminars and dinners, there are numerous opportunities for students to enhance their educational experience.

Undergraduate student Inaara Ali expressed her gratitude at being able to take part in such thought-provoking events. "Attending the World Leaders Forum greatly inspired me as a Diplomacy student," she said. "Madam Gbowee’s honest responses about peacekeeping in our world today were eye-opening. I am very grateful to the School of Diplomacy for providing me with such an amazing experience!"

Leymah Gbowee’s final message was for the audience to ask themselves: "How do we conduct ourselves in a way that ensures a future for future generations? As current students and future leaders, what do we consider peace and what can we do to ensure it?"

To see more of the event, watch this video and view our photo gallery here.

Categories: Nation and World