Grace Oglesby, a junior liberal studies major and Juliana Farello, a senior liberal studies major, attended the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Mérida, Mexico, from Sept. 19-22. Both have a concentration in special education and were chosen by Chaeli Mycroft, the founder of the Chaeli Foundation, to be a part of the foundation's delegation. According to the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, the summit is one of the most inspirational and most significant annual events in the field of peacemaking.
The Chaeli Campaign is a South African-based organization with a branch here in the United States whose goal is to grow more inclusive and empowered communities through the inclusion of children, youth and adults with disabilities. Other groups such as March For our Lives, Swim for Change, Kids Rights Foundation, as well as certain universities all sent delegations to the summit according to Oglesby. Victoria Graf is a professor of educational support services here at LMU and told the Loyolan that "the reason that LMU did not send its delegation this year was because the request to send students came too late last year."
The summit consisted of panels in the morning and then smaller workshops in the afternoon according to Oglesby and Farello. Oglesby described the summit as being "for the youth and focused on developing areas of advocacy and change-makers." She noted that there were people there in attendance from all over the world.
The summit focused on the youth's ability to maintain or advocate for peace not only in their local communities but also globally. "It was an expansive experience in how to promote and work towards peace. It was centered around youth — youth being anyone from 12 years old to people in their late 20s," said Farello.
The highlight of the trip for Oglesby was meeting various Nobel Peace Laureates and hearing what they had to say. Her favorite was Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian activist who is a lawyer and advocates for the rights of women and children in Iran. Ebadi gave an empowering talk on not being afraid of failure and how you have to take a step back in order to jump forward.
Rigoberta Menchú Tum was a Nobel Peace Laureate in attendance who stood out to Farello. Tum, who is known as a leading advocate of Indian rights and ethno-cultural reconciliation, spoke about environmental justice pertaining to indigenous cultures. Having learned about the Mayan civilization in high school, the most memorable part of the trip for Farello was the hike to Uxmal. She was able to better understand everything that she had learned about the oppression of indigenous people.
For Oglesby, the summit was a reminder that even small changes can make a difference in the long run. "We learned how each of the Nobel Peace Laureates overcame obstacles and were able to make a difference in their communities," she said. Farello agreed, saying that as youth we think that we are too young to make any real change.
Events like this prove the opposite and provide young people with the skills and connections to make a real difference. "I was able to gain a more global sense of advocacy. Here at LMU, I'm so focused on advocacy in education. However, being there, I was able to see how education advocacy connects to all other forms of advocacy," said Farello.
The summit as a whole was an avenue for young people to get together and talk about advocacy and what they can do. Promoting peace is in line with our LMU mission and our Ignatian values. In the future, Graf hopes that LMU will be able to send a delegation of its own.