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Daily Updates: Saturday, September 02, 2006 - Morning Session

Hiroshima, Japan -  As reported by Alice Michelle Augustine, of Lehman College, and Selvon Waldron of the University of the District of Columbia

The morning session of day three of the conference, was dedicated for scholars and peace activists to present and participate in a panel discussion on education. Lehman’s President Ricardo Fernández and Vice President of University Relations and Communications at the University of the District of Columbia. Dr. Bobby Austin were part of this panel.

It was Dr. Austin who started this session discussing Education. Dr. Austin’s presentation, “Educating the World on Peace and Prosperity, challenged his audience to educate themselves on peace and the absence of peace. According to Dr. Austin, peace is a process and it is not something to be accomplished but something to be created. He impressed upon the audience the importance of having a goal and outlining a mission in the process of creating peace. “For peace to become a reality, it takes all of us, and we are responsible for bringing peace on earth,” he said.

Dr. Austin simply but, eloquently, deconstructed his written presentation stating the importance of accessible education, developing genuine values, and the importance of collaborating technology in the process. He reiterated throughout his presentation that, “Property is a constructed phenomenon.”

Dr. Bobby Austin concluded his presentation with numerous suggestions in relation to sustaining peace. He suggested that all peace organizations should be in all way connected; there should be a think tank for peace deterrents; and, finally, he suggested that countries create, “Citizen diplomats.” As a climatic point of importance, Dr. Austin stressed the importance of setting goals, objectives and missions in order to have a bench mark for future conferences.

Following, President Ricardo Fernandez made a speech with a reflection on his work as an educator in the Bronx. Quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, he said: “Whatever creates a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness is violence.”

He also spoke of his commitment to serving the poorest and most oppressed in the Bronx, by starting relationships with various high schools around the Bronx, which allows children whose parents did not receive college education to consider and desire the possibility of college. President Fernandez, whose background included studies in language studies, spoke to the audience of the roots of the word education, which he sees as enticing someone to learn.

After President Fernandez, Mr. Binh Le, of Penn State University in Abington, spoke of the digital divide that separates developing countries from developed countries. According to Mr. Le, illiteracy made it difficult for many people in the developing world to function in the digital age.

Dr. Julian Muller then continued by paring peace to a bull with five legs. Dr. Muller explained his view of peace as something to be contemplated carefully. He stressed the importance of not only seeing the relationship of poverty and peace but he also urged for a closer study of AIDS and peace. “Peace is something you have to believe in, he said. “Peace is a gift, and that peace is a challenge.”

Dr. Paul Reagan, a lecturer in Asian history at Penn State University’s Abington College, focused on the life of a Japanese Philosopher, Abe Jiro. Dr. Reagan’s explained his audience how he saw peace as a striving toward a world community of persons. He shared that Abe Jiro felt that if the right way already existed, he would not be trying to change things. Mr. Reagan also advised that love is practical and that one must love oneself to show love to others.

This session finalized with the remarks of two Lehman Students, Frank Critton and Monique McPherson. Both of them spoke of their experiences as teachers. According to Critton, education is the passport to future. Mr. Critoon shared his experiences as part of a special education program in Westchester, and Monique McPherson, one of the winners of Shirin Ebadi’s Scholarship, spoke of the importance of teaching children the beauty of a diverse community, where they are included.

Second part of the morning session

As reported by Frank Critton of Lehman College, and Thomas Elahi.

The second part of today’s morning session featured Dr. Arthur Molella of the Smithsonian Institute, and Maryam Elahi, an attorney-at-law and the Director of the Human Rights Program at Trinity College, and Lehman College representative Alice Michelle Augustine. Their talk focused on human rights.

Starting this part of the morning session, Dr. Molella discussed the history of the atomic bomb, and he briefed the audience on how Americans portray and view the development and use of the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki 61 years ago.

Dr. Molella discussed how information presented about the bomb is seen as heroic. He showed how exhibits near Dulles Airport in Washington D.C. highlight the scientists and their “contributions.”

Ms. Elahi followed by delivering a firm and profound message for bringing peace into a place in reality. She said that there is no greater tool than universal education, specifically in human rights, because it allows youth to think analytically, empirically and logically.

Ms. Elahi also pointed out the risks and problems that weapons of mass destruction have brought to the world. “There is only one solution,” Elahi said. “All must disarm their nuclear arsenals, only then can they justly stop nations such as Iran from producing weapons of their own, and the only way to disarm in a democracy is to educate the youth in human rights.”

In this session, Lehman College student Michele Augustine delivered a passionate talk on civil and social injustice. She said that even though injustices may be prevented by a nation’s constitution, governments sometimes can not enforce it for sociological or cultural reasons. Augustine also spoke of girls being trafficked in Ghana, and she expressed the need for a board separate from the International Criminal Court and the United Nations to address such a problem.