This year’s annual conference on “Non-Violence, a Choice” took place on Friday, May 12 at the Mt. Hood Community College. One of the highlights of the conference every year is the student panel, where attendees get to hear from the young, bright students from surrounding universities. The student panel members from Mt. Hood Community College this year were Chidoze Urom, Blanca Alverez-Lopez, and Barbra Archbeque. They were joined by students from several other colleges, including Alina Button from Pacific University, Andrea Gonzalez from Portland State University, and Victoria Reis, an Admissions Counselor and International Specialist at Marylhurst University. The panel was moderated by Gary and Nancy Spanovich, Directors of the Wholistic Peace Institute (WPI). Students shared their many insights about non-violence, both on the historical level and on a very personal level.

Many shared that the role models for peace in their lives were their mom, their dad, or a grandparent. They shared many thoughtful insights to questions such as “How do you find peace in your life?” and “What are the steps we need to take to promote peace?” They expressed the need for creating environments for peaceful interactions to take place, such as WFWP’s peace conference, and to not stay silent in the face of injustice. The moderators also shared many personal experiences with Nobel Peace Laureates, especially the Dalai Lama, that they have met with numerous times. In 2001, the WPI held their first World Peace Conference here in Portland, welcoming the Dalai Lama to the event. Since then, Mr. and Mrs. Spanovich and the WPI continue to bring Nobel Peace Laureates to Oregon to educate others and promote peace.

From the many participants, here are some of their comments:

My experience at the Women’s Federation for World Peace conference this past Friday was extremely beneficial as a college student in today’s society. I thought the speakers were thoughtful, inspiring, and very knowledgeable on the struggles many people are facing in today’s political climate. I thought the student panel was also very interesting and I could connect to what many of the things they were saying about peace and how to work towards bringing peace to your community, I learned a lot overall from the whole experience from audience members who shared and from the speakers. --University of Oregon, Kacie Kennett

I really enjoyed listening to the gentleman from Cambodia. The contrast of how much his life has changed is amazing. --MHCC Student Micaela Kennedy

Thank you for asking for feedback. I appreciate the opportunity to input. I really enjoyed the conference and made some great contacts. I thought the topics and speakers were good. I liked the display tables for organizations in the back. Appreciated the snacks. Liked the venue. Was a tad disappointed in the turnout, and would suggest more marketing next year. --Participant Suzanne Miller

I truly enjoyed what part of the conference that I got to attend...it was very refreshing to see there are still good people in the world, just because you have a story doesn't mean you have to pick the path of anger which was something I needed to be reminded... thanks so much for putting this event together. --Participant Sally Jackson

From my view the caliber of the conference was exceptional. --Participant Gene D. Merwin