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PeaceJam Southeast Mentor Retreat

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PeaceJam is an international education Program.

The mission of the PeaceJam Foundation is to create young leaders committed to positive change in themselves, their communities and the world through the inspiration of Nobel Peace Laureates who pass on the spirit, skills, and wisdom they embody.

What vision of heartbreaking misery, what manner of dire poverty, what degradation of the human spirit must we all see before we stand up and actually commit to doing something about it?

The Genesis Of PeaceJam

For Dawn Engle and Ivan Suvanjieff it took a very long time to realize that some kind of " call to action" was even possible. They are the children of Detroit factory workers, average and flawed people from very ordinary backgrounds. They say that "There is absolutely nothing fancy or outstanding about either one of us." Dawn financed her college education by waiting tables and applying for scholarships; Ivan worked on the line at Ford Motor Company and played in a rock and roll band. Dawn worked her way up the ladder as a policy maker in Washington, D.C; Ivan became a writer and an artist and a very accomplished busboy. Somehow they both ended up living in Colorado in the summer of 1993 (call it fate).

Watch Dawn and Ivan tell their story or read it below

That summer, in the rough and tumble barrios of Northwest Denver, gang activity hit a record high. There were so many drive-by shootings, so many young people dying, so many tragic cases of innocents caught in the cross-fire, that the media dubbed it ‘The Summer of Violence'. One day, as he was leaving his apartment to go to work, Ivan saw four young boys carrying guns. He called them over to talk and he discovered that these rough-and-tumble youth not only knew who Desmond Tutu was, they appreciated his nonviolent efforts toward change.

That encounter proved to be the genesis of PeaceJam. Ivan was on fire-if these guys could get excited about the idea of non-violent change, he thought, anyone could. He had a huge brainstorm-maybe what Denver needed was to put young people together with Nobel Peace Laureates like Tutu, to inspire young people to use their energy to work for positive change. Maybe this was what the world needed.

Suvanjeiff's vibe was infectious and he soon sold Dawn Engle on the concept. Engle, a former Washington politico and cofounder and chair of the Colorado Friends of Tibet, was granted an audience with the Dalai Lama. They had to borrow money from friends to fly to India but somehow made it, and the Dalai Lama liked the idea and he said yes, I will do this. But he also told them to involve some of his other Nobel Peace Laureate friends, so young people could study their lives and get many different perspectives on the world. They ended up back in Ivan's unheated loft in Denver, cold-calling Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, so incredibly fired-up about the idea that they didn't realize just how impossible it really was.

Before long, the PeaceJam program was launched, and to date over 600,000 young people have participated in the USA and around the world. PeaceJammers have created almost one million service projects designed to address problems in their own schools and communities. Archbishop Tutu recently commented on the creation of PeaceJam, saying, "It seemed like a crazy idea at the time, but it has gained an incredible kind of momentum and it has made a huge, huge difference in the lives of many young people by giving them hope and direction." One person really can make a difference, and PeaceJam has proven it repeatedly by empowering young people to become agents of change, all over the world.

How it Works

PeaceJam's program is built on three simple ideas: Education, Inspiration, and Action.


The purpose of the PeaceJam curriculum is to stimulate youths' critical thinking skills, strengthen their research abilities, increase their knowledge of the role of nonviolence in conflict, and promote self growth and reflection. It includes specific content on the lives and work of the Nobel Peace Laureates, as well as engaging activities for analyzing root causes of issues that affect communities both locally and globally. Extensive resources in each chapter allow youth to participate in an in-depth exploration of topics such as violence, poverty, reconciliation, and an individual's power to make a difference. In this section of the site you will find more information on all PeaceJam Programs and how to Get Trained.


Through the PeaceJam program, youth explore the personal stories of 13 Nobel Peace Laureates-most of whom have overcome tremendous challenges. Each Laureate's choice to stand up against negative forces and to solve problems in their own countries through nonviolence can serve as inspiration for youth as they work to address the issues they are most passionate about. Youth analyze the skills, knowledge, and attributes that allowed the Laureates to be successful in their work. Youth are also asked to explore their own beliefs, actions, and choices, and to explore how to put their talents, skills, and passion to work for positive change. In the Inspiration section of the site, youth can learn about the Nobel Laureates, find upcoming PeaceJam Events, share and look at pictures and videos from PeaceJammers all over the world in the Gallery, and talk to their fellow PeaceJammers on the Message Boards.


PeaceJam puts youth in the authentic position of being peacemakers and peacebuilders who address the most pressing issues of our time in both local and global communities. Youth will use the framework of PeaceJam's Global Call to Action to implement creative projects that address the root causes of such issues as extreme poverty, disease, racism, violence, environmental degradation, human rights, and the proliferation of weapons. PeaceJam offers all young people the opportunity to step into powerful leadership roles that will make a lasting and sustainable impact. This section will also give you specific ways to create and implement a Global Call to Action Project, and will be where you can register your project so that it can be counted toward the one billion project goal.

Board of Directors

Each Laureate member of the PeaceJam Foundation appoints someone to serve on the PeaceJam board for a two-year term. Below are the current members of the PeaceJam Board.

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