Inside USD

Simon Award Spotlights Women PeaceMakers

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The University of San Diego was front and center on the national stage last week, recognized with a Senator Paul Simon Spotlight Award for Campus Internationalization.

Nominated by its own International Center, USD, one of three universities to receive the Simon Spotlight Award, was honored for the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice’s (IPJ) Women PeaceMakers Program. The NAFSA Association of International Educators announced winners — 12 in all — for internationalization programs on campuses throughout the United States.

“It was my pleasure to nominate our university for the 2011 Senator Paul Simon Award for Campus Internationalization on behalf of all the members of our International Advisory Council,” said Dr. Kim Eherenman, associate provost for International Affairs. “It is an honor for all of us to be able to promote and support a program with the international impact of the WomenPeaceMakers Program.”

The program allows four women (2010 Women PeaceMakers, pictured, at right) who are leading human rights and peacemaking efforts in their respective countries to spend time at USD in the fall. Here they share their stories and engage the university and local communities on these issues through planned activities and conversations. The program documents the women’s experiences, activities and insights along with a Women PeaceMaker writer who is assigned to them. The Fred J. Hansen Foundation has generously funded the Women PeaceMakers Program all eight years.

“The Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice is founded on the experience and promise that if we can know one another, we can learn, we can change and we can create peaceful and just societies,” said IPJ Deputy Director Dee Aker, who created the Women PeaceMakers Program. “Thirty-two women, four each year, have lived here on campus for two months each fall. As their stories are documented, their spirits, too, are lifted by meeting our USD community. This University of Peace often gives these women some of that peace and a respite from their dangerous lives. On occasion, students have been inspired to join WPMs at home on the ceasefire lines or at centers where they have taken a stand and given hope to so many who have no other voice.”

Named for the late Senator Paul Simon, (D–Ill.), the Spotlight Award and other awards recognize outstanding and innovative efforts in campus internationalization. Sen. Simon was known as a strong supporter of international education and foreign language learning. His leadership in these areas was especially evident in his support for the creation of the National Security Education Program, which addresses critical national security deficiencies in language and cultural expertise, and in his vision of a national program to greatly expand U.S. citizens’ knowledge of the world, which was the inspiration behind the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Foundation Act.

— Melissa Wagoner

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