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ND hosts student conference

Kathleen McDonnell | Friday, March 31, 2006

Given the service-oriented nature of many Notre Dame students, it’s not uncommon for undergraduates to set their sights on changing the world. Organizers of this year’s Student Peace Conference hope the weekend event will provide some answers for students stuck wondering where to begin.

Peace Conference Chair Kevin Walsh said the conference is tailored to students who have a “genuine desire” to live their faith and work for social justice.

“The presentations at the conference will both open your eyes to horrific problems that afflict our global society and empower you with the knowledge that you have the ability to change it,” Walsh said.

The annual conference begins with a banquet tonight and continues Saturday with nine different panels and five different presentations throughout the day. Held at the Hesburgh Center for International Studies and sponsored by the Kroc Institute, the peace conference is planned and directed by undergraduate peace studies students.

Walsh said student interest has been exceptional – with nearly 200 students registered to attend. While Friday’s banquet registration is closed, all students are encouraged to attend presentations on Saturday, where registration is recommended but not required.

This year’s conference, titled “Voices of Today, Changes for Tomorrow,” highlights the role of youth in building peace. Urban gang violence, educational programs teaching values of peaceful conflict resolution and identity and discrimination are some of the issues the conference will touch on.

Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. presentation of Myla Leguro, nominee for the 2005 Nobel Peace prize, promises to be particularly worthwhile, Walsh said. Myla will discuss her challenges and aspirations in working with Catholic Relief to combat youth violence and religious conflict in the Philippines.

For students interested in local issues, representatives from Take Ten and the Children’s Defense Fund are speaking at 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. respectively.

The conference includes presentations on a wide variety of topics including immigration, human rights, religious conflict and peace through economic development. Interested students should check the Kroc Institute Website for a full list of presentations.

The peace conference promises to be a rewarding experience for all who attend, Walsh said.

“The annual Notre Dame Student Peace Conference works to enlighten students from the Notre Dame community and beyond on how to work for a more just and peaceful world,” Walsh said.

“We hope to do so by confronting the very serious challenges to peace that we face and by envisioning real ways to overcome these obstacles,” he said. “We hope the conference inspires students to transform this dialogue into action in their own daily lives and in their professional careers.”