Scottsdale students discuss building peace at leadership conference

Peace and reducing conflict were on the minds of 45 high school students at the annual Student Leadership Conference at Scottsdale Community College organized by Scottsdale Sister Cities.

This year’s conference was focused on “Peace Building Through Youth Ambassadors.”

From left, Caroline Castle, student at Desert Mountain High School; Dr. Christopher Zambakari, Rotary Peace Fellow; and Eve Rennie, student at Saguaro High School. The students welcomed and introduced Dr. Zambakari to the other students. (submitted photo)

Students from seven Scottsdale area high schools attended.  The students are officers and members of the international clubs at their schools.  Many of the students either have served or will be serving as Youth Ambassadors for their schools and community in Alamos, Mexico; Marrakech, Morocco; Uasin Gishu, Kenya; or Interlaken, Switzerland.

The conference highlight was a discussion on “Building Peace, Piece by Piece” by Rotary Peace Fellow Chrisopher Zambakari.  Dr. Zambakari shared with the students the steps necessary for building peaceful solutions between people who are enemies, antagonist, or of different political persuasions.

To get their attention and emphasize the importance of peace building, he described the financial and human costs of wars since 9-11.

As a youth, Dr. Zambakari was a displaced person during the civil war in the Sudan.  As a young adult he was selected for training as a Rotary Peace Fellow.  After attaining his master’s degree with a specialization in conflict resolution at the University of Queensland in Australia, his applied field experience was in the Middle East and North Africa.

Rotary Peace Fellows are nominated by a Rotary Club and if selected, study in one of six global universities.  Rotarians are not eligible to participate.

Students who had previously served as youth ambassadors for Scottsdale also shared their experiences in India, Morocco, Mexico and at the Sister Cities Youth Summit in Colorado.  Those who went to foreign countries lived in the homes of local students and their families, having an opportunity to really get to know young people in these differing cultures.  They spent from seven to 14 days there and attended or visited local schools.

This was the 10th annual student leadership conference sponsored by Scottsdale Sister Cities.  Attendees are now prepared to serve as leaders of their international clubs during the coming year.  Some 350 Scottsdale area students have completed the conference since 2009.

After high school, many alumni of the conference participate in study abroad programs and serve as leaders of global interest in their universities.  Scottsdale is building a cadre of potential leaders for better international cooperation during the upcoming decades.

Scottsdale Sister Cities Association manages the Sister City program for the City of Scottsdale.  Its purpose is to promote international friendship and goodwill.

For more information about Scottsdale Sister Cities, visit www.scottsdalesistercities.info.

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