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Webb students participate in Peace Jam conference

Ten students from Webb School of Knoxville took part in an event few people have the opportunity to experience in a lifetime.

They attended the Peace Jam Foundation’s 10th Anniversary Conference in Denver, Colo. Sept. 15-17, where 10 Nobel Peace Laureates spoke, including the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

“This was the largest gathering of Nobel Peace winners ever in North America,” said Kirk LaFon, religion teacher and service director at Webb.

Peace Jam is an organization put together by Desmond Tutu and the Dali Lama with the purpose of educating and empowering young people to influence peace in the world, LaFon said.

The students from Webb attended speeches, but also discussed different service projects they work on throughout the year, said Erin Lauer, 16, a Webb student who attended the conference.

This year, students at Webb School are focusing on creating awareness about children in North Africa, particularly Uganda, who are being forced to enter the Lord’s Resistance Army as soldiers, LaFon said.

The students came back from the conference with a stronger sense of determination to move forward with their project.

“I really feel like our peace project is going somewhere this year,” Lauer said.

She listed several goals for the school year including a letter writing campaign; a sponsored walk in support of their project and an attempt to educate younger students at Webb Middle Schhol about injustices carried out in Uganda.

The Peace Jam conference scheduled continual events throughout the weekend. The discussions and networking opportunities not only allowed students to come into contact with other students who are involved with different justice issues, but also helped create awareness about different events and issues that are occurring all over the world, said Webb School student William Anderson, 17.

“The amount of involvement, it was a little more than I expected,” Anderson said. “It brought to light a lot of issues we weren’t involved in.”

More than 3,000 students from across the world attended the Peace Jam Conference, which was broadcast internationally by BBC World News, LaFon said.

A highlight of the conference was meeting with Mairead Corrigan Maguire, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977 for her efforts to create a grassroots movement to help end violence in Northern Ireland, Lauer said.

The Webb students met with Maguire to discuss their peace project.

“She makes it a point to hug everyone,” Lauer said. “She was very inspiring.”

LaFon and his wife, Kristan LaFon, accompanied the students on the trip. This is the fifth year students from Webb have attended the conference.


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