Rotary International Manager Summer Lewis discussed the strategic partnership Rotary has with the Institute for Economics and Peace at Tuesday’s virtual meeting. Photo Courtesy Rotary
BY LINDA HULL
Rotary Club Of Los Alamos
What is necessary to create sustainable peace?” posed Summer Lewis when she spoke Tuesday to the Rotary Club of Los Alamos from her home in Oaxaca, Mexico via Zoom. Lewis is the manager of Rotary International’s strategic partnership with the Institute for Economics and Peace.
As a Rotary International manager, Lewis provides “educational tools and resources to support Rotarians and Rotaractors in making peace tangible and actionable.” (Rotaractors are young people ages 18 and older, often college students, who develop leadership and professional skills with community leaders through their membership in Rotaract.)
Rotary International has long been involved in peace-building, Lewis reminded Rotarians. In 1945, following World War II, Rotary International “held a seat” in the formation of the United Nations and creation of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UNESCO).
To help answer the question she asked about sustainable peace, Lewis continued that rather than only achieving “negative peace,” the absence of violence, Rotary strives to build “positive peace,” building upon “the attitudes, institutions, and structures that create and sustain peaceful societies.” Rotary “does this through its very membership, uniting like-minded individuals in a common cause” through its seven Areas of Focus or project categories. Those Areas encompass Maternal and Child Health, Literacy, Clean Water and Sanitation, Economic Development, Environmental Stewardship, Disease Eradication, and Peace and Conflict Resolution.
The fundamentals for sustainable peace, Lewis explained, include the free flow of information, good relations with neighbors, a well-functioning government, a sound business environment, low levels of corruption, acceptance of the rights of others, and as much as possible, the opportunities associated with the equitable distribution of resources.
Rotary has addressed Peace and Conflict Resolution by establishing seven Peace Centers worldwide. The Rotary Peace Centers educate and train leaders “who become catalysts for peace and conflict resolution in their communities and around the globe.” The Peace Center program, a rigorous curriculum of academic study and practical training, accepts approximately 50 Master’s degree fellows and 50 professional development certificate fellows each year. The Peace Centers are found on the campuses of the University of Bradford in West Yorkshire, England; Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand; Duke University/University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, NC; the International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan; the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia; and Uppsala University in Uppsala, Sweden. Each Peace Center concentrates on different aspects of peace-building.
Since 2002, 1400 students have completed their Peace Center fellowships. Ninety-three percent of the graduates work in peace-related careers in 100 countries. They are employed in government, law and law enforcement, non-government organizations, United Nations agencies, banking, journalism, education, and research.
As examples, Lewis spoke fondly of three close friends from the Peace Fellowship program: a woman from Argentina who works in Syria to re-settle refugees; a young man from Somalia who works in Canada to address immigrant unemployment; and still another friend who is from Colombia and works in South America for the Organization of American States and monitors peace accords.
Expanding upon the strategic partnership between Rotary and the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), Lewis explained that the partnership combines Rotary’s volunteer global network of 1.2 million Rotarians and 200,000 Rotaractors with the IEP’s data measuring framework. “They bring together their respective work in a way that enhances and adds unique value to the field of peacebuilding.” Education–building knowledge, skills, and networks–is the cornerstone in Positive Peace.
Originally from Manhattan, Kansas, Summer Lewis has spent more than half her life abroad, working, living, and traveling across 38 countries and 6 continents. Lewis began her Rotary journey as a university student, thanks to a Rotary Volunteer Service Grant to Guatemala with Rotaract, and later as a Rotary Peace Fellow. She completed a Master of International Studies, Peace and Conflict Resolution at the University of Queensland, Australia in 2012. Lewis currently calls Oaxaca, Mexico home. Coincidentally, she was born on September 21, the United Nations Day of Peace.
The Rotary Club of Los Alamos, through its Club Foundation, is a 501(c)3 non-profit and one of over 34,000 clubs worldwide. Rotary, which now has 1.5 million members, was founded in 1905; the local Club was chartered in 1966. Rotary areas of focus, as noted in above, include promoting peace; fighting disease, particularly polio; providing clean water, sanitation, and hygiene; supporting education; saving and enhancing the lives of mothers and children; growing economies; and protecting the environment.
To learn more about the Rotary Club of Los Alamos and its humanitarian service, please contact: Laura Gonzales, President, 699-5880 or Skip King, Membership chair, 662-8832.