Valencia College Wins Grant to Support Peace Week Speakers’ Series

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Orlando, FL – Valencia College has received $2,000 in funding support from the Public Education for Peacebuilding Support initiative of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP). The support will enable Valencia College to host a speakers’ series about genocide, and bring in humanitarian aid worker Carl Wilkens, the only American who remained in Rwanda after the genocide began in 1994.

“I am honored to receive this grant from the US Institute of Peace – Public Education for Peacebuilding Support program,” said Paul Chapman, professor of humanities at Valencia College and a member of the college’s Peace and Justice Initiative. “Valencia students will have the chance to learn from Carl Wilkens, who was an active participant in international peacebuilding efforts as the country director of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency in Rwanda from 1990 to 1994. His presentation will examine the international response to the Rwandan crisis, and address issues of exclusion and prejudice within the themes of post-conflict transitions and nonviolent conflict resolution.”

“USIP is pleased to support organizations like Valencia College and their contributions to the national conversation around international conflict – and methods for resolving those conflicts nonviolently,” said USIP President Jim Marshall.

The United States Institute of Peace is the independent, nonpartisan conflict-management center created by Congress to prevent and mitigate international conflict without resorting to violence. USIP works to save lives, increase the government’s ability to deal with conflicts before they escalate, reduce government costs and enhance national security. USIP is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices in Baghdad, Iraq, and Kabul, Afghanistan.

As part of its congressional mandate, USIP devotes a portion of its budget to support organizations that advance the field of conflict management by developing new techniques, establishing best practices, and professionalizing the field through education and training. The Public Education for Peacebuilding Support is a program of USIP administered by the Institute of International Education.

The USIP grant – with matching funds from Orlando-based ShuffieldLowman Attorneys & Advisors — enabled Valencia’s Peace and Justice Initiative to bring in two speakers for its 2013 Peace Week event.

Wilkens, the former head of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency International, will speak to students and the public on Sept. 18 and 19 at Valencia’s East and Osceola campuses. Today, Wilkens leads a Seattle-based educational nonprofit, World Outside My Shoes.  Carl Wilkens

As an aid worker, Wilkens moved his young family to Rwanda in the spring of 1990. When the genocide that eventually took over 800,000 lives began in April 1994, Wilkens refused to leave, even when urged to do so by close friends, his church and the U.S. government. Wilkens was the only American to remain in Kigali, the capital city. Venturing out each day into streets crackling with mortars and gunfire, he worked his way through roadblocks of angry, bloodstained soldiers and civilians armed with machetes and assault rifles so that he could bring food, water and medicine to groups of orphans trapped around the city. His actions saved the lives of hundreds.

Wilkens was featured in Frontline’s “Ghosts of Rwanda” and “The Few Who Stayed: Defying Genocide,” an American Radio Works documentary which aired on National Public Radio.

Michael Savagecloseup2The series’ other speaker will be Dr. Michael Savage, a former British military officer charged with investigating genocide. Dr. Savage now teaches history and genocide studies at Valencia College.


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