Durango Telegraph - What is PeaceJam?
What is PeaceJam?

PeaceJam was launched in 1996 by co-founders Dawn Engle and Ivan Suvanjieff.

Suvanjieff conceived the idea for PeaceJam in the summer of 1994 after talking with gang members in his North Denver neighborhood. He discovered that these gun-toting youth not only knew who Archbishop Desmond Tutu was, they appreciated his nonviolent efforts toward social change. An artist, Suvanjieff merely connected the dots between these disaffected youth and the notion of putting them together with Nobel Peace laureates as role models. His colleague Engle had met the Dalai Lama during her years of work for the U.S. Congress, where she lobbied on behalf of the Tibetan cause. Engle and Suvanjieff then were granted an audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who liked the idea.

The Dalai Lama suggested that the duo bring in other Nobel Peace laureates, and Engle and Suvanjieff discovered that a vast majority of them were also interested in the idea of peace education for youth. But as they were tied up with the huge amount of work surrounding each of their own efforts, they had not had the time to act fully on this concept themselves. PeaceJam ultimately provided the Nobel Peace laureates with a vehicle by which to teach youth the art of peace.

To date, 12 Nobel Peace Prize winners, including the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Oscar Arias, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel and Aung San Suu Kyi have served as members of the PeaceJam Foundation and participated in the annual conference.

Peacejam celebrated its 10th anniversary last September with a large conference that included the Dalai Lama as well as 3,000 kids from 33 countries.

For more on PeaceJam, visit www.peacejam.org.

-Missy Votel