This alternative spring break trip was no Cancun beach party – it was a mission to deliver the hope of peace and nonviolence to a nation emerging from 10 years of civil war and internal political conflict. Twenty URI students, faculty and friends joined the Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies to travel halfway around the world to conduct Kingian Nonviolence Conflict Reconciliation training for Nepali peace activists and university students. For the fourth year, URI’s Center conducted the training in collaboration with several Nepali nongovernmental organizations, including Collective Campaign for Peace, Center for Peacebuilding & Reconciliation Promotion, and Social Work for Development. Also participating were students from Tribhuvan University’s Conflict, Peace & Development Studies Program. With the world’s highest and most magnificent Himalaya Mountains as the backdrop to the training, URI students and Nepalis participated in three days of interactive dialogues, experiential exercises, and simulated training activities. Cultural boundaries were quickly crossed as participants worked together and established friendships. Following the important global peacebuilding work, the URI team traveled through the central highlands and lower Terai plains to experience first hand the cultural and geographic diversity of this beautiful country. From the ancient city of Bhaktapur to mountainous Nagarkot, to jungles of Chitwan National Park, to an orphanage and several holy temples in the capitol city of Kathmandu, this life changing experience brought us all together as we developed close friendships and deepened our commitment to a peaceful world. We are grateful to the wonderful Nepali people for their generous hospitality, and humbled by their happy spirits despite the challenges of their difficult living conditions in one of the poorest countries in the world. Many lessons were learned from the Nepali people we met on this journey — none more important than how to find inner peace, live happily and be rich in spirit even under circumstances of extreme poverty, endangering pollution and threatening conflict.
“We have been silent too long about hand gun control!” was the powerful statement made by Moms Demand Sensible Gun Laws. December 14 marked the first anniversary of the Sandy Hook shootings. Last year the country honored the children killed with a time of silence. This year the mothers are requesting the ringing of bells to commemorate these children. At 9:30AM on Saturday 12/14, bells rang out across the entire country.
Center staff members and friends met at the Wakefield Mall, bells in hand, and invited shoppers, many who were children, to join in to ring the bells.
The First Annual Rhode Island Author Expo was today, Saturday, November 16 at the Courthouse Center for the Arts in Kingston. The Center’s Thupten Tendhar and Kay Johnson showcased their books as two of 45 RI authors. Thupten’s poetry book, Peace – Rhythm of My Heart and Kay’s In Peace and Freedom coauthored with Bernard LaFayette, Jr. were well received. Large crowds came in waves and enjoyed visiting with authors from all over the state.
This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. – Dalai Lama
World Kindness Day is 13 November. It was introduced in 1998 by the World Kindness Movement a coalition of nations kindness NGOs. It is observed in many countries, including England, Canada, Japan,Australia, Singapore, Nigeria and United Arab Emirates. World Kindness Day is to highlight the Good in the community focussing on the positive power and the common thread of kindness which binds us. Kindness is a fundamental part of the human condition which bridges the divides of race religion, politics, gender and zip codes. Kindness Cards are also an ongoing activity which can either be passed on to recognise an act of kindness and or ask that an act of kindness be done. Approaches are being made to the United Nations by the peak global body, The World Kindness Movement to have World Kindness Day officially recognised and its members unanimously sign a Declaration of Support for World Kindness.
DO ONE THING for a Better World
1. Find out more about the power of kindness
2. Make an effort to use kind words
3. Try to perform an act of kindness each day
4. Organize or participate in a community service or awareness-building event or activity on World Kindness Day
WHAT: Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield
WHEN: Thursday, November 14, 2013, 7:30PM
WHERE: Swan Auditorium
Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield
Dirty Wars follows investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill, author of the international bestseller Blackwater, into the hidden world of America’s covert wars, from Afghanistan to Yemen, Somalia, and beyond. With a strong cinematic style, the film blurs the boundaries of documentary and fiction storytelling. Part action film and part detective story, Dirty Wars is a gripping journey into one of the most important and underreported stories of our time.
WHAT: The award winning documentary film, “Living for 32″ – sponsored by the Center for Nonviolence & Peace Studies
WHEN: Monday, November 18, 2013, 7:30PM
WHERE: Swan Auditorium
On a snowy, windy April day in Blacksburg, Virginia in 2007, young Americans pursued a college education and their teachers engaged in providing it to them. Some of those students were attending Introductory German, Intermediate French, Advanced Hydrology Engineering, and Solid Mechanics classes in a building called Norris Hall.
Thirty-two of them died, 17 more were wounded, and six more were injured jumping out of windows. Their lives had collided with that of a tortured loner, whom a judge had written was “fundamentally ill and in need of hospitalization, and presents an eminent danger to self or others as a result of mental illness,” or is so seriously mentally ill as to be substantially unable to care for self.
One of those wounded was a 21-year-old senior International Studies major from Richmond, Virginia, named Colin Goddard. Goddard played a unique role in the horrific drama that played out at Virginia Tech University on that blustery April day: he was the only person within the building to call the police. Urged by his French professor to dial 911 as the crackle of gunfire came closer to the door of their classroom, Goddard made the call. Shot for the first time, he passed the phone to a classmate who gave the police enough information to get them to the scene three minutes later. Police got into the building, which had been barricaded, six minutes after that. For all the terrible damage that the killer did, the toll of lost lives might have been much higher if it were not for the 911 call started by Colin Goddard and continued by Emily Haas.
By the end of the ordeal, the killer had fired at him at three separate moments during the eleven-minute assault. Goddard had been shot four times. He heard the rescue workers walking through his classroom, shouting ‚”red tag, black tag, black tag‚” a dire roster of the critical and the dead. He was later told he might not walk again, but fought his way through arduous physical therapy. And he grew a fire in his heart to do something about keeping dangerous people from having easy access to deadly weapons. The killer had two semiautomatic handguns, dozens of 10- and 15-round magazines, and 400 rounds of hollow-point ammunition.
After recovering and finishing his degree, Colin Goddard decided he was going to volunteer for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the nation’s largest gun control organization. And he was going to convince them to sponsor him in wearing a hidden camera and going undercover into gun shows all across America, to prove how easy it is for anyone to buy a gun, with no identification, no Brady background check, and just a wad of cash.
Living for 32 is his story.
WHAT: The film, “Free China: The Courage to Believe” sponsored by the Center
WHEN: November 21, 7:30PM
WHERE: Lippitt Hall Auditorium
The Center is sponsoring this engaging award-winning film that tells the story of a mother and former Communist Party member, Jennifer Zeng, who along with more than 70 Million Chinese were practicing a belief that combined Buddhism and Daoism until the Chinese Government outlawed it. The Internet police intercepted an email and Jennifer was imprisoned for her faith. As she endured physical and mental torture, she had to decide: does she stand her ground and languish in jail, or does she recant her belief so she can tell her story to the world and be reunited with her family?
With more than one hundred thousand protests occurring each year inside China, unrest among Chinese people is building with the breaking of each political scandal. As China’s prisoners of conscience are subjected to forced labor and even organ harvesting, this timely documentary exposes profound issues such as genocide and unfair trade practices with the West. The film also highlights how new Internet technologies are helping bring freedom to more than 1.3 billion people living in China and other repressive regimes throughout the world.
The Center is sponsoring three films in November on the URI campus. Come join us for informative and engaging documentaries that underscore the need for nonviolence in our country and world.
1. Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield
Thursday, November 14, 2013, 7:30PM Swan Hall Auditorium – This follows investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill, author of the international bestseller Blackwater, into the hidden world of America’s covert wars — from Afghanistan to Yemen, Somalia, and beyond. With a strong cinematic style, the film blurs the boundaries of documentary and fiction storytelling. Part action film and part detective story, Dirty Wars is a gripping journey into one of the most important and underreported stories of our time.
Monday, November 18th, 7:30 pm - Swan Hall Auditorium - Living for 32 is the inspirational story of Colin Goddard, a survivor of the tragic gun-shooting massacre, which occurred on the Virginia Tech campus, April 16th, 2007. The winning combination of Colin’s passion, charisma and optimism has commanded the attention of the American public and media since the devastating incident, which left 32 dead and 17 injured. In Living for 32, Colin shares an intimate account of terror he and his classmates endured and the courageous journey of renewal and hope he chose to pursue.
Thursday, November 21st, 7:30 pm - Lippit Hall 402 – The award winning “Free China: The Courage To Believe” tells the story of a mother and former Communist Party member, Jennifer Zeng, who along with more than 70 Million Chinese were practicing a belief that combined Buddhism and Daoism until the Chinese Government outlawed it. The Internet police intercepted an email and Jennifer was imprisoned for her faith. As she endured physical and mental torture, she had to decide: does she stand her ground and languish in jail, or does she recant her belief so she can tell her story to the world and be reunited with her family? A world away, Dr. Charles Lee, a Chinese American businessman, wanted to do his part to stop the persecution by attempting to broadcast uncensored information on state controlled television. He was arrested in China and sentenced to three years of re-education in a prison camp.
Fifteen active members of the Sisters Overcoming Abusive Relationships (SOAR) presented a powerful and inspirational play, “Behind Closed Doors” at URI’s Edward Auditorium on October 24, 2013. The play was well attended by students, staffs, and faculty members. The event was hosted by the URI Peer Advocates and cosponsored by the PINK, WOWW, Uhurus Sasa and Women’s Leadership Coalition.
The surviving sisters who came from different demographic, racial, and occupational backgrounds reminded us all once again about the importance of nonviolence studies and practices. Laura Daussault, one of the performers, introduced herself as a Level II Kingian Nonviolence Trainer from the URI Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies. She expressed how she is using her nonviolence work and training to help domestic abuse victims. She was one of the courageous survivors who has been trying hard to eradicate domestic abuse from our society by raising awareness and educating people about this issue.
The moving play, written by SOAR members and based on their true stories, consisted of songs and heart-wrenching narratives. In many cases, the abusers acted kind and generous in the community, while treating their wives inhumanly behind closed doors in their own homes. The show ended with each performer receiving a red rose. The play was a reminder to us about the importance of nonviolence in our culture and how these terrible abuses could be eliminated from our society only when every community member identifies violence as an unacceptable action, whether it is domestic or international. - Thupten Tendhar
Bernard LaFayette Jr., former director of the URI Center for Nonviolence & Peace Studies has completed a book about his civil rights experiences from the 60s. He was a cofounder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a leader in the Nashville lunch counter sit-ins, a Freedom Rider, an associate of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and the national coordinator of the Poor People’s Campaign. At the young age of 22, he assumed the directorship of the Alabama Voter Registration Project in Selma — a city that had previously been removed from the organization’s list due to the dangers of operating there.
In this memoir, written with Kathryn Lee Johnson (URI School of Education and Center for Nonviolence & Peace Studies), LaFayette shares the inspiring story of his years in Selma. When he arrived in 1963, Selma was a small, quiet, rural town. By 1965, it had made its mark in history and was nationally recognized as a battleground in the fight for racial equality and the site of one of the most important victories for social change in our nation.
LaFayette was one of the primary organizers of the 1965 Selma voting rights movement and the Selma-to-Montgomery marches, and he relates his experiences of these historic initiatives in close detail. Today, as the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is still questioned, citizens, students, and scholars alike will want to look to this book as a guide. Important, compelling, and powerful, In Peace and Freedom presents a necessary perspective on the civil rights movement in the 1960s from one of its greatest leaders.
This book was just honored with the prestigious Lillian Smith Book Award (May 2014), given for outstanding creative achievements, worthy of recognition because of their literary merit, moral vision, and honest representation of the South, its people, problems, and promises.