Magazine Feature / People

DU students serve as mentors at PeaceJam conference

There were more than just high school students PeaceJamming this weekend. DU students played a major role in the largest gathering of Nobel Peace Prize winners ever on U.S. soil. The Nobel laureates were on campus for PeaceJam’s 10th anniversary celebration Sept. 15–17.

About 120 DU students served as mentors during the conference, which encouraged students to conceive community projects aimed at improving their communities. Other students found ways to help PeaceJam through DU’s Center for Civic Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL).

As mentors, DU students were assigned a “family group.” During sessions with these small groups, DU students engaged attendees in dialogue about service projects and their worldviews. DU students also led discussions about the Nobel Peace Prize winners. 

Olga Tunga, a senior international studies and Spanish major, says she hoped her time as mentor had a positive influence on the high school students she worked with. 

“I feel quite honored to have met such a bright, young group of people and I walked away with a sense of pride,” Tunga says. 

Tunga and many of her fellow DU student mentors were PeaceJam participants when they were high school students. 

Colin Brauns, a senior digital media studies major, got involved with PeaceJam through his association with CCESL.

In addition to mentoring students, Brauns pitched in during the weeks leading up to the event, helping coordinate the program and designing T-shirts.

“It is a tremendous opportunity to simultaneously improve the world and to represent what this generation of DU students are all about,” Brauns says. 

The DU students rubbed elbows with some of the world’s iconic peace figures, including the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Jody Williams, the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize winner, told them to “go and do something.” 

And that’s exactly what they did. 

“This experience greatly strengthened my view that volunteering one’s time and educating others on the issues effecting our society is very important and very much needed,” Tunga says.

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