An Illinois Wesleyan University student who’s traveled the world to pursue her passion for peacebuilding is making it a lot easier for her Titan peers to engage with peace activists.
Josie Blumberg, a senior international studies major, is the lead organizer of IWU’s inaugural International Day of Peace conference on Friday and Saturday. Peace activists from Asia, the Middle East, and Africa will be on campus for panel discussions, a film screening, and performance.
Blumberg stoked her passion for peace and diplomacy via two IWU-supported academic trips—a summer internship at a nonprofit peace organization in Japan, and another working for a social change leaders development program in Washington, D.C. She’s also been named a 2018-2019 Peace Fellow at IWU, focused on peace, conflict resolution, and social justice.
“A lot of times people get all caught up on the negative, and how there’s still so much work to be done. But I’m trying to show them that, no, there’s so much good work being done in this field, and so many people so passionate about this, and I want them to be very energized and realize this is an exciting field,” Blumberg said. “(It's important) for them to see that there’s change being done, and it’s very positive, and I understand what my role can be.”
Blumberg said her experience in D.C., with the Atlas Corp.’s fellowship program, introduced her to peace leaders from 88 different countries from around the world.
“When I got back, I realized I wanted other students to meet them and have those same opportunities as I did, without having to travel to D.C. and Japan,” she said. “I really wanted to engage students in those discussions on campus, to show them that every student—no matter what their background is—can contribute to this discussion and they should.
"These are global issues that affect all of us," she said.
The IWU conference is timed to coincide with the International Day of Peace.
Local events will begin Friday from 12:30-1:30 p.m. in the Davidson Room of the Memorial Center with a viewing of “The Grandchildren of Hiroshima,” by Mirei Tashiro. Following the screening is a performance by Tatsushi Amano, titled “Living with the Father,” in the Beckman Auditorium of the Ames Library from 4-6 p.m. A dinner and panel discussing, “Lessons from the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict and Japan,” will then follow from 6:30-8 p.m. in the Turfler Room of the Memorial Center.
On Saturday, a panel of activists will speak on “Understanding the Complexities of Peacebuilding” in the Hansen Student Center from 1-3 p.m. A meet and greet with the panelists will precede the event.
The events are free and open to the public.
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