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Six Billion Paths to Peace: The Journey of Global Engagement by Sara Mizner

One of the major highlights of the 2010 National Conference on Volunteering and Service Conference in New York City was the “Six Billion Paths to Peace: The Journey of Global Engagement” panel discussion. Moderated by Anne Maura Connolly, CSO of City Year, the panel included global leaders in service and volunteering, education, youth leadership and interfaith dialogue. In this inspirational discussion the featured guests explored various aspects associated with national and international service endeavors in a room overflowing with more than 55 attendees.

Kicking off the discussion Jim Kielsmeier, President of National Youth Leadership Council, spoke of the amazing power of service as it relates to peace building and illustrated how Active learning combined with Active Service has the potential to build bridges in local and international communities.

He also highlighted several impressive service programs across the globe- from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Argentina, each born out of international partnerships.

The work of Kyleigh Kuhn, Founder of Pennies for Peace & the Shinnyo-en Foundation Ambassador of Peace, served as an exemplary model to Jim’s point. As her family’s organization Roots for Peace tirelessly serves the world transforming mine fields into agricultural fields Kyliegh expressed how she herself has been transformed through her work with others. “While we often consider the benefits that the community may receive we must also acknowledge the ensured rewards that we gain,” said Kuhn.

Kyleigh also acknowledged those who have supported her in her work, “the Shinnyo-en foundation has provided a breath of life into my path to peace.”

Kennedy Roberts also spoke humbly of his own inner struggle to find his path to peace through service. While he told a story of the devastating civil war that divided his home country of Grenada, he also spoke of the critical role that volunteering played in ending the conflict and reuniting communities.

Adding to the discussion, Dr. Rueven Gal, clinical psychologist and author, shared openly about his own transformation from his service in the Israeli military to becoming a peace activist. He described his own transformation which can be best be illustrated by his most recent book title, “Service Without Guns.”

After discussing the many and varied programs, what each panelist was eager to discuss was how to engage and connect young global citizens with their own paths to peace.

Kennedy Roberts, a diplomat from Grenada, set the stage for the discussion by affirming, “We cannot hope for our children to find peace if we continue to perpetuate war,” and each panelist went on to speak about the importance of providing people with alternatives to violence through service, education, youth leadership and interfaith dialogue.

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