By Andrea W. Doray
With the announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize, Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan became its youngest recipient at 17, sharing the award with Kailash Satyarthi of India. Shot in the head by the Taliban in October 2012 when a gunman boarded her school bus, Malala made a remarkable recovery in England, where she continues her advocacy for girls’ rights to education that began when she was only 11 years old.
I was deeply disappointed last year when Malala’s 2013 nomination did not result in the Peace Prize, that pre-eminent, political, and often controversial award handed out every year by the Norwegian Nobel Committee on behalf of the estate of its founder, Alfred Nobel. I was gratified this year for Malala’s well-deserved recognition, as well as for the spotlight this award has cast on both education and peace.
Not all efforts at peaceful activism can result in such prizes, of course, and this is the case — so far — for Fort Collins-headquartered Writing for Peace, a now-global organization that began as a local Young Writer’s Contest in 2011. Today, the nonprofit Writing for Peace shares an international stage with its high-profile advisory panel. Sponsorships from educational institutions such as Colgate University help produce an annual publication, “DoveTales: An International Journal of the Arts,” which attracts literary submissions from around the world, as well for its Young Writers Contest.
Writing for Peace helps cultivate empathy through education and creative writing to develop a foundation of compassion on which to build a more peaceful world. Its goal is to inspire and guide young writers so that their literary focus can be part of bringing nations closer to nonviolent conflict resolution and societies that value human rights.
Teachers all over the world are preparing their students for a relay race of unprecedented consequences. Our generation is passing them a heavy baton: a world in crisis. If we are to hope for a more peaceful world, we need future leaders with vision, clarity and empathy. The Writing for Peace Young Writers Contest challenges these students — including contest winners from South Korea, Vietnam and Nigeria, as well as the U.S. — to develop global and cultural awareness while refining their writing skills.
Among the Writing for Peace advisory panel members are poets, novelists, memoirists and essayists — artists such as Sam Hamill, who founded Poets Against The War, and Karachi-born Syed Azfar Ali Rizvi, now a Toronto-based documentary filmmaker who survived ethnic cleansing as a child in Pakistan. Young Writers Contest judges are no slouches either, including Guggenheim Fellowship winner Antonya Nelson and New York Times best-selling author Steve Almond.
Yet, as impressive as this may be, it’s work with young people that drives the mission of Writing for Peace. The first Young Writers Contest in 2012 resulted in five entries from U.S. students. By 2014, Writing for Peace has received submissions from students in 24 countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Great Britain and the Netherlands, as well as Bangladesh, Macedonia, the Maldives, Malaysia and the Philippines.
This impact on young people around the world is reflected in the words of Kasturi Panajady, 15, from Karnataka, India, “Since Writing for Peace, I have become bolder in terms of sharing my work.” Jordan Dalton, 16, from Indiana, said, “I’ve come to realize that my work really can make a difference in the world.”
Although it’s not likely that Writing for Peace will be nominated for a Nobel Prize (yet), such activist efforts at empathy through education prove that peacemaking is more than a prize. As Dalton puts it: “Words have the power to spread awareness, hope, and inspiration to people who would have otherwise despaired.”
[This article first appeared in the Denver Post on October 18, 2014.]
Andrea W. Doray (email@example.com) is a communication consultant, writer and editor, and is a youth writing instructor at Lighthouse Writers Workshop. She serves on the Board of Directors for Writing for Peace. Learn more about her work here.
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DoveTales Call for Submissions
DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts, is accepting submissions for our 2015 “Nature” edition. Read our guidelines and submit here.
Enter Our 2015 Young Writers Contest
Help spread the word! Go to www.writingforpeace.org to meet our previous winners and learn about our prestigious panel of judges: Antonya Nelson, fiction; Stephen Kuusisto, poetry; and Steve Almond, nonfiction. Read the full guidelines here.
Your Library Isn’t Complete Without DoveTales!
The 2014 DoveTales, “Contrast” Edition is now available for purchase. The “Contrast” edition includes the beautiful black and white photography from Writing for Peace Artist-in-Residence, Paula Dawn Lietz, as well as the 2013 Young Writers Contest winners, and the following contributors:
Jordi Alonso, Cassandra Arnold, Maggie Bàra, Henry Braun, Lorraine Caputo, William Cass, Lorraine Currelley, Colin Dodds, John Garmon, Diane Giardi, Mark Goad, Veronica Golos, Sam Hamill, Dawnell Harrison, D. Iasevoli, Ed.D, Allan M. Jalon, Shelley Kahn, Richard Krawiec, Paula Dawn Lietz, Cory Lockhart, Shannon K. Lockhart, Veronica Marshall, Sandra McGarry, Iwona Partyka, Sy Roth, Andrew Sacks, Carol Smallwood, Julia Stein, Samantha Peters Terrell, Bänoo Zan
Writing for Peace Granted 501 (c) 3 Federal Nonprofit Status
What does 501(c)3 status mean for Writing for Peace? Well, some things will not change; our administration will continue to be board operated and volunteer based. That means 100% of contributions go directly towards the considerable costs of publishing, maintaining our website, shipping DoveTales journals and participation certificates to contributors and young writers in 24 countries, and providing modest prizes to our contest winners. We are grateful for the support of generous donors and the Colgate University Research Council.
Here’s what will change: Your donations can now be deducted from your Federal income tax! For those who chose to support us before that was the case, we are deeply moved by your belief in us, and we are so happy to finally be able to say your contribution is a deduction. For your records, our Federal Tax ID Number is 45-2968027.
If you’re a believer in Writing for Peace, we hope you’ll consider donating to support a simple mission with a profound affect on the lives of our young writers. You can make your contributions here.
As Jordan Dalton (16), put it:
“Since writing my entry for Writing for Peace, I’ve come to realize that my work really can make a difference in the world. Words have the power to spread awareness, hope, and inspiration to people who would have otherwise despaired. We all have the ability to create, and create in the name of beauty and change. I can only hope one day to spend my life doing just that.”
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