OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Nobel Peace Prize Winner Betty Williams to Meet With Students at OSU for PeaceJam

04/10/2007

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Nobel Peace Prize laureate Betty Williams will visit the Oregon State University campus on Saturday, April 21, where she will work with Pacific Northwest high school students, teachers and OSU students on community service.

She also will present a free public lecture at 8 p.m. in LaSells Stewart Center.

Her appearance is part of PeaceJam, an international education program that works with Nobel Prize laureates to engage youth in volunteerism and encourages them to work to transform themselves, their local communities and, ultimately, the world.

Williams is one of the founders of the Community of Peace People, an organization that is still actively involved in the betterment of life for people in Northern Ireland. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976, along with Mairead Corrigan Maguire, for her work against violence in Northern Ireland. Her activism began when she witnessed the killing of an IRA gunman by police, which caused his car to veer out of control and kill three children.

The first person on the scene, Williams called a reporter and announced a peace rally would be held in one week – an event that drew thousands and ushered in a new wave of anti-violence activism. She has spent the past 30 years traveling around the world, promoting safety and well-being for children.

This will be the third year OSU has hosted a PeaceJam event and Nobel Prize laureate. Last year, Guatemala’s Rigoberta Menchu Tum, the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner and activist for indigenous peoples, came to campus. The first “PeaceJam NW” event was held the previous year and featured Jody Williams, the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize winner for leading a global drive to ban land mines.

“It is an honor for Oregon State University to host this Northwest event and an extraordinary opportunity for high school and college students to personally interact with a Nobel Prize recipient,” said Frank Ragulsky, OSU’s student media adviser and a campus coordinator of PeaceJam.

“Perhaps the most important part comes when they return home and become more actively involved in their own communities,” he added.

The April 21 event has thus far drawn 225 high school students from Oregon, Washington and California; 38 OSU students who will serve as mentors; and 46 teachers from around the Northwest. A dozen PeaceJam affiliate directors from around the country will also take part.

The students will work in groups of about a dozen on a variety of community service projects in the Corvallis area, attend workshops, and have the opportunity to present individual or school plans for furthering peace to Williams.

Among the community service projects:

  • Building a fitness trail for elementary students at Lincoln School in Corvallis;
  • Sorting clothes, cleaning and moving furniture at Circle of Hope, a drop-in center for low-income community members and their families who are coping with homelessness or mental illness;
  • Cleanup, working with pets and other activities at the Heartland Humane Society;
  • Painting, cleaning and construction for the Presbyterian Preschool, a facility that offers tuition assisted preschool and child care.

The PeaceJam event is supported by the Division of Student Affairs at Oregon State University.