BY ALISON PANNELL
AND LINDA HULL
Give Peace a Chance
“In many ways, everything we do as Rotarians to improve the human condition supports peace.” In this opening statement, Rotarian Alison Pannell captured Rotary International’s emphasis on “building positive peace” as she explained the Peace Fellowship program to members of the Rotary Club of Los Alamos on December 15.
At the 1942 Rotary International (RI) conference in London, Rotary founder Paul Harris joined leaders from 21 countries to consider establishing an “education and cultural exchange” at the end of World War II. In 1945, 11 prominent Rotarians were invited to serve as consultants at the first conference of the United Nations. There in San Francisco, Rotarians began their role as observers at United Nations meetings with the declared purpose today “to contribute to peace and security around the world by promoting international collaboration.” Since its founding in 1905, Rotary has long been dedicated to “fostering skills in communities to resolve conflicts.”
Years ago, Rotarians proposed establishing a university to address peace and conflict resolution, but it was not until the 50th anniversary of Paul Harris’s death that RI encouraged people “already engaged in peace-building careers to apply for graduate level studies in the field.” Through The Rotary Foundation (TRF), RI’s financial branch, students were able to enroll in established peace programs at existing universities.
The first programs for Rotary Peace Centers were approved in 1999, with studies beginning in 2002. With 130 Peace Fellowships offered each year, over 1300 students have graduated from the programs located at Duke University and University of North Carolina, USA; the International Christian University, Japan; the University of Bradford, England; the University of Queensland, Australia; Uppsala University, Sweden; Chulalongkorn University, Thailand; and Makerere University, Uganda.
Each Peace Center concentrates on slightly different aspects of peace-building, such as policy-making, public service in developing countries, conflict analysis and data collection, and peacekeeping. The programs offer studies for a Master’s degree or a professional development certificate. “The Master’s program generally requires a commitment of 15-24 months and includes a two-three month self-directed field study; the certificate program is an intensive three-month program with field study and peer-learning opportunities.” In addition to the exceptional opportunities offered, the Peace Fellowship recipients are awarded tuition and fees, room and board, round-trip transportation from the student’s home to the designated Peace Center, and all internship and field study expenses.
Graduates from the RI Peace Fellowship programs serve as leaders in government, the military, law enforcement, non-profits, and international organizations, including the Red Cross, United Nations, and Save the Children.
Currently Jaclyn McAlester, an acute care nurse from Albuquerque, is being sponsored in the Tokyo, Japan program by Rotary District 5520, the district incorporating all of New Mexico and west Texas. Sara Tuzel of Los Alamos has also been a promising applicant.
Each year RI seeks leaders who are already working in or hoping to promote peace to apply for Peace Fellowships. RI continues to “develop leaders who will become catalysts for peace, to study the causes of conflict, to build innovative solutions to real-world problems in areas such as human rights, international relations, global health, and economic development.”
Applications for the RI Peace Fellowship must be endorsed by a Rotary Club; interested persons are encouraged to apply. Applications for the 2022-23 school year are due February 2021. Application information is available at https://www.rotary.org/en/our-programs/peace-fellowships. Any questions may be directed to Alison Pannell, Peace Fellow Committee chairperson for the Rotary Club of Los Alamos and District 5520, 505-570-0629 or to Linda Hull, 505-662-7950.
Alison Pannell joined the Rotary Club of Los Alamos in 2003 after seeing an opportunity to help students in the Los Alamos community. In the Rotary Club of Los Alamos, she has served as President, Treasurer, Secretary, Foundation Chair, Youth Exchange Counselor, Peace Initiative Chair, 4-Way Test Essay Competition Chair, and Grants Manager. She initiated the Interact Club at LAHS, started the annual Purple Pinkie Polio fundraiser in the elementary schools, and, under her guidance, directed the Club to become the first PeaceBuilder Club in the District.
In District 5520, Pannell served as a Rotary Youth Leadership camp counselor for four years and on the Peace Fellow Committee for two. Currently she is Chair of the Peace Fellow Committee. She has been a Paul Harris Society member for eight years and is a member of the Rotary Action Group for Peace.
To learn more about the Rotary Club of Los Alamos, please contact: Laura Gonzales, president, 505-699-5880 or Skip King, membership chair, 505-662-8832.