Youth as Peace Ambassadors | Peace Summit 2018

 Over 350 emerging leaders from 47 different countries gathered together for the inaugural Peace Summit 2018 at the United Nations in Bangkok, Thailand.

New Colombo Plan Scholars and Alumni

The inaugural Peace Summit united the world’s brightest and well-hearted young leaders to respond to the universal call to action: to create a more just, inclusive and peaceful world.

The theme of the Summit: Together for Peace highlighted how collective effort is vital in the pursuit of global peace.

While peace is everyone’s responsibility, the Summit recognised that the youth of today are in a unique position to be agents of change in the global arena.

In 2019, all 350 young leaders have committed to take on the mantle of Peace Ambassadors in their local communities and the world at large.

From contributing to existing peacebuilding efforts to leading their very own initiatives, we interviewed delegates about their experiences of the Summit and their aspirations for their role as Peace Ambassadors.

1. Tell us your key takeaway from the Summit?

Jo Reid (Australia) expressed that she has evolved in her understanding of peace and is motivated to share this with her fellow youth. “I understand peace is not a political actor – it’s not something that can materialise itself nor is it an end-state we are working towards” she explained. “Peace is a continuing process of becoming. It’s millions of small decisions made every day by billions of peopledecisions to value diversity, to be inclusive, to be open to positive social change and to advocate peace within our own spheres of influence”.

Fatima Ali (United Kingdom) discovered that peace starts from within and is able to transcend. “I believe we should endeavour to acquire true knowledge for our overall betterment and for universal welfare”, she shared. “We need to start by focusing on ourselves then looking outward to issues that threaten peace in today’s global community. These include inequities, disenfranchisement and marginalisation of vulnerable groups”.

For Avni Arisha Kumar (Australia), her perception of war and loss will never be the same. “I recognise my privilege now” she shared. “I want to encourage other youth to recognise this privilege as well and work towards supporting the underprivileged”. She recognises that each person carries their own truth which is informed by their own experiences, and this deserves to be respected.

Peace Ambassadors in action – Peace Summit Group Session

In a similar way, Monica Rawlek Elizondo (Canada) highlighted the importance of understanding and recognising our diversity. “We shouldn’t just synthesise people into all being the same” she shared. Monica reflected on the theme for the Summit, “It’s true that we all come from different backgrounds, but we are united by our desire for peace”.

Peace Ambassadors United for Peace

For Lorynn Serena Westad (Australia), the walk to peace starts with empathy and forgiveness. “Although it’s difficult, we must consider a soldier and a victim within an unfortunate situation with the same empathy” she shared. “I now try to think, feel and imagine their reality”. Lorynn firmly believes that even when we’ve been hurt or mistreated, anger fosters nothing but peace within yourself can foster everything.

2. What do you hope to do in your role as Peace Ambassador?

Pinsuda Sorussa (Thailand) advocates for dialogue as a powerful means of peacebuilding. “I want to keep spreading the message of promoting peace to as many people as possible” she shared. Pinsuda’s long-term project is to organise a small-scale peace conference, similar to that of the Peace Summit, at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand. “I hope this becomes a recurring activity in my Faculty and future collaborations can come from it”.

For Mathew Thomas (Australia) collaboration is key to developing grass root actions in his own community. In 2019, Mathew will work alongside his fellow Australian Peace Ambassadors on a project that supports vulnerable groups in Melbourne. “We hope to address local issues such as indigenous incarceration, asylum seeker detention and domestic violence”, he shared.

Fatima Ali (United Kingdom) has chosen to focus on two main priorities: community action and policy. “I want to work towards reorientating the curriculum to standards reflecting social accountability, enhancing health-peace literacy education and collaborating with local charities in London”. Fatima also aspires to form policies for national implementation. “I want to create small working groups on human rights and peace issues”. Her long-term vision is the international adoption of these policies.

Peace Ambassadors connecting to their vision

Jo Reid (Australia) aspires to launch her own social enterprise, ‘Inkludem’ which is dedicated to supporting fellow humanitarian and international development professionals prepare for their international aid deployments. “Essentially, in my role as Peace Ambassador, I will support those who work to deliver peace”, she shared.  

Avni Arisha Kumar (Australia) hopes to continue working with her NGO team at Humdard – a humanitarian organisation that works to support underprivileged communities in Fiji. “I’m currently working on a project to provide children with a disability in Fiji access to resources that enhance their quality of life”. As the only member under 40 years of age, Avni hopes to involve more youth in this important initiative. 

During the Peace Summit itself, a group of passionate Peace Ambassadors came together to launch a viral campaign called Funds for Peace. This initiative was founded on the belief that a small monetary contribution can have a multiplier effect in supporting organisations that need it most. Within a span of a day, Peace Ambassadors raised 13000 (THB) / $572 (AUD) to support Ponheary Ly, one of the speakers, in her Foundation that supports thousands of children in rural Cambodia to receive an education. 

Ponheary Ly (right) receiving the funds at the Official Closing Ceremony

This is a testament to how the youth of today are the hope for tomorrow.

To watch the Peace Summit in action and hear from other incredible Peace Ambassadors, please click here for the Official Peace Summit 2018 Video.

Together for Peace – Inaugural Peace Summit of Emerging Leaders 2018

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