Rachel Allen Brings PJI to the United Nations, Serves on a Panel About Fostering a Culture of Peace and NonviolenceShare
By Dani Moritz-Long
When Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury visited Valencia in 2013, he introduced our community to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence — a United Nations-sanctioned document that outlines methods and principles essential to sustaining peace and preventing violent outbreak. Inspired by the ambassador and the U.N.’s commitment to peace building, Director of the Peace and Justice Institute (PJI) Rachel Allen saw the potential for Valencia’s own peace-building operation, then coined the Peace and Justice Initiative, to become aligned with the U.N. program.
Since then, Rachel has worked diligently to frame PJI’s work in a global context — effectively establishing a grassroots, model peace organization scaled to impact peace on a local, national and global scale. That’s why she was invited to speak at the U.N. High-Level Forum on the Culture of Peace on Wednesday, September 5, 2018.
Honored by the request, Rachel was pleased to travel to New York to attend the forum, where more than 40 member nations expressed their commitment to fostering a culture of peace and nonviolence, and four panelists, including Rachel, discussed credible pathways to sustaining peace.
Speaking about Valencia’s role in creating a culture of peace, Rachel stood before delegates from nations around the world to define PJI’s foundation and methodology. She detailed the PJI Principles for How We Treat Each Other and how the principles create a commonality of both language and practices, described the importance of staff and faculty development, and noted particularly powerful PJI events and projects, including the Orlando Speaks series and the recently-launched PJI Academy for Teachers.
“Our vision for the future remains strong,” Rachel said during her U.N. presentation. “Understanding that all humans would benefit from peace, we model a way of being in community … that attracts others to the work and leads them to say, ‘I want to be a part of that movement.’”
Essentially, Rachel explained, she leveraged her presentation to showcase how Valencia’s actionable, grassroots approach is both impactful and replicable. (Already, international organizations like The World Affairs Council have benefited from PJI’s model.)
“It’s a thrill that we can become a model for other institutions to cultivate a culture of peace,” she explained. Plus, she said, “There’s hope in hearing a story that a big community like Central Florida is advancing this notion of a culture of peace. There’s hope in that and, at a time that’s so challenging, we all need some hope.”
Fortunately, she said, we can all play our role. Whether by embodying the PJI Principles, participating actively in PJI or simply weighing in on difficult conversations, each of us can contribute to fostering peace — which is precisely what makes PJI so effective.
“Change is possible,” Rachel said, “and we’re a part of it.”
Proud of Rachel and PJI’s local and global impact, East and Winter Park Campus President Stacey Johnson, who Rachel credits as an integral PJI champion, also attended the U.N. forum in support of Rachel’s work.
“Rachel Allen’s invitation to address the United Nations reflects the work of literally hundreds of individuals both within the College and in our community that support this work,” shared Stacey. “It was an honor to go to New York and support Rachel as she presented to this international audience. Rachel can have so much pride for the work that she and the Peace and Justice Institute are leading because it is making a difference. Perhaps others will respond to her address at the U.N. and be interested in the 13 Principles for How We Treat Each Other and the many other programs that PJI offers. Thanks to Rachel and the support of so many other supporters of PJI, Valencia has made a significant impact on fostering peace in Central Florida and now Valencia’s program has been introduced at a global level.”
To view Rachel’s U.N. presentation, click here.
To learn more about PJI and how you can become more involved, visit the PJI website.