January 7, 2005: Headlines: COS - Zambia: Peace: Walker Pilot Independent: Zambia RPCV Karla Berg asked 1,374 people living in 38 different rural communities across the country, their definitions of peace last summer

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Zambia: Peace Corps Zambia : The Peace Corps in Zambia: January 7, 2005: Headlines: COS - Zambia: Peace: Walker Pilot Independent: Zambia RPCV Karla Berg asked 1,374 people living in 38 different rural communities across the country, their definitions of peace last summer

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Zambia RPCV Karla Berg asked 1,374 people living in 38 different rural communities across the country, their definitions of peace last summer

Zambia RPCV Karla Berg asked 1,374 people living in 38 different rural communities across the country, their definitions of peace last summer

Zambia RPCV Karla Berg asked 1,374 people living in 38 different rural communities across the country, their definitions of peace last summer

Helping to 'build peace in the world'

by Molly MacGregor

The Pilot-Independent

Last Updated: Friday, January 07th, 2005 12:39:31 PM

If you Google "peace" on the Internet, 57,900,000 references pop up in 18 seconds. Not surprisingly, most of the "hits" connect to anti-war sites.

But, peace is also personal. A busy parent longs for "peace and quiet;" a church congregation "shares the peace" with each other during services. That personal peace is the building block for peace in community and the world. "Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures," said John F. Kennedy.

Karla Berg asked 1,374 people living in 38 different rural communities across the country, their definitions of peace last summer. She found that most people's definition of peace started with how secure they felt personally. She talked about her experiences to the Friends of the Library group in late November.

Karla grew up in Walker, where (according to at least one former teacher) she excelled at forming an opinion and expressing it. After college, she served in Africa with the Peace Corps for 3.5 years. She worked in Washington, D.C., and Australia. She won a World Peace Scholarship from Rotary International and used it to study peace and conflict resolution in Paris. Her peace travels were a master's project to finish her academic work.

Her approach was simple. Over eight weeks, she drove across the country, starting east and moving west, stopping at towns with populations less than 5,000. When she'd get to town, she'd go to a local cafe. There, she'd ask people patrons and workers to be interviewed. She would ask three simple questions: What is your definition of peace? How do you find peace in your life? And, Do you have peace in your life? Many times she was turned down; just as often, she spent hours visiting with the folks she met. The conversations often led to an invitation to dinner, to a place to stay while she was in town, or to introductions to other people to be interviewed.

One long day everyone turned down her request for the peace interview. Finally, she approached a family with young kids. She was hesitant the kids were literally bouncing up and down in the restaurant booth, and the parents were probably preoccupied. The parents seemed reluctant but agreed, and soon they had warmed to the topic, and the conversation went on, and, not surprisingly, peacefulness settled over the table.

Three older men she described as "scruffy" surprised her. They'd noticed her in the restaurant and called her over to talk. She described her project and they asked her to come outside with them. There they showed her a pickup truck loaded with vegetables that they were giving to families in need. "By cultivating vegetables, they cultivated peace," she said.

Using the 1,374 expressions of peace she collected, Karla is devising a formula for peace. The ingredients have to include "acceptance, understanding, no discrimination, balance, justice, communication, respect." Those of us who listened to Karla came to understand that the formula for peace needs one more critical ingredient: someone like Karla, who actively seeks peace.

Few of us have the nerve to ask a stranger about peace a topic that may be too personal, too political or too religious. Fewer have the nerve to travel to a place as poor, conflicted or desperate as Africa. From Great Books to high school speech competition to support from the Rotary Club, Karla was encouraged to seek and share ideas. Growing up in Walker gave Karla the confidence and security to be articulate and opinionated, to actively seek out other people's opinions and to choose to live in places in the world without peace and security, where she believes she can help create peace and security.

"Peace, like charity, begins at home," said Franklin D. Roosevelt. Karla's foundation of personal security has led her to explore the world and to share her own peace. She is courageous. She reminds those of us whose lives are secure, that when we share our security, we help build peace in the world.

Molly MacGregor lives in Walker and will be writing a regular column for The Pilot-Independent about our community, taking a closer look at some of the events and issues that concern us.

When this story was posted in January 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Peace Corps issues appeal to Thailand RPCVs Date: December 30 2004 No: 354 Peace Corps issues appeal to Thailand RPCVs
Peace Corps is currently assessing the situation in Thailand, anticipates a need for volunteers and is making an appeal to all Thailand RPCV's to consider serving again through the Crisis Corps. Also read this message and this message from RPCVs in Thailand. All PCVs serving in Thailand are safe. Latest: Sri Lanka RPCVs, click here for info.

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Story Source: Walker Pilot Independent

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Zambia; Peace



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