by Emily Zionts, Global Issues teacher - February 21, 2011

Yesterday we sent 1/2 of our kids off to Visalia to participate in building houses for and with low-income folks with an organization called "Self-Help Enterprise." This is their mission as taken from their webpage: "Self-Help Enterprises is an organization dedicated to self-help housing, sewer and water development, housing rehabilitation, multifamily housing and homebuyer programs in the San Joaquin Valley of California. The goal of Self-Help Enterprises is to help farm laborers and other low-income families to help themselves. Here, in the world’s most productive agricultural area, there is an astonishing quantity of inadequate, if not hazardous housing. The people who provide the source of labor for the agricultural fields can find little except substandard housing, and have incomes too low to qualify for standard new home loans. Most are working families who, despite their labors, have known only poverty. They have reared their children in places that are unsafe, unsanitary and a far cry from the American dream of homeownership. These are families and communities effectively hidden from mainstream America and untouched by its rising prosperity. Yet they are families with dreams and determination and the willingness to work hard. All they need is someone to bridge the gulf between dreams and reality."

This semester, I am staying behind but I wanted to share these photos which truly capture the joy that Woolman Semester students and staff bring to the work that we do on and off campus! Enjoy!

by Annelise Hildebrandt - February 15, 2011

Spectators lose passion and creative thought. They are instead convinced that society will quickly direct them on a path to success. Their definition of success is determined not by their own desires, but by the societies superficial needs. Individuals slowly become hypnotized into a soothing, yet incomplete daze. To be a spectator is to be a bystander. Bystanders allow injustice to take place, as frightening tales unfold. Spectators allow fear to paralyze them into submission. Spectators lose their hope. I refuse to be a spectator.

The world is full of frustrated individuals immobilized by cynical thought and self-doubt. Living in a world of injustice is at times overwhelming, as I have fumbled with hope on many occasions. Feelings of helplessness and chains of inaction suffocate potential peacemakers and activists. These chains have led me to at times float into the margins of a conversation, fearful of the power of honesty and vulnerability. Such restraints slowly turn passionate shouts into whispers, eventually becoming simply a faint echo. The consequence of spectatoritis is silence. Heartbreaking and dangerous, silence quickly becomes a habit. Silence oppresses the future.  I refuse to be silent.

A  truly revolutionary concept, optimism demands faith in the idea that change is possible, despite the abundance of chaos and calamity.  In order to cure this epidemic of inaction, we must hold hope in our hearts. Hope is fierce, unrelenting, and beautiful. However, to simply call oneself an optimist is not enough. Barbara Kingsolver once said that, “the very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is to live inside that hope.” I hope for equality, for kindness, for the end of silence.  My dance through life, inevitably full of conflict-creating and peace-making, will move in a rhythm of optimistic intention. I am not a spectator. I am ridiculously passionate, unrelentingly determined, and endearingly hopeful. 

by Angelina Conti, Peace Studies Teacher - February 14, 2011

The first writing assignment in Peace Studies is a 100-word essay in response to the prompt: “In our society, who has power? What kind of power is it? What to they do with it?” It’s due the second day of class, and is designed to get them thinking and to give me a taste of them as writers and thinkers.

Peace Studies is all about power. Throughout the semester, we discover and discuss different kinds of power - the power of domination and oppression (power over), the power of satyagraha*, social movements and nonviolent resistance (power with), and the power of our own stories, lives, identities and liberation (power-from-within).

But on the first day most of the students are still working with power as we commonly understand it and encounter it – the power of wealth, government, military, and media. More often than not, they describe that power as one based on control and concentrated in the hands of the very few:

“I believe that the governments, and people with weapons are the ones who have the power.”

“In our society, I believe the President, Congress, Senate, Supreme Court, along with many rich people have power.”

“I think in the global society, the media has a huge amount of power.”

“In our global society, those willing to ignore their morals and sacrifice their humanity have power.”

Their answers are consistently thoughtful, knowledgeable, and sophisticated – they show impressive understanding of interconnected and global systems, and say a lot in a mere 100 words.

And  much as I find these answers sobering – they are so familiar with domination and control, and rarely do they express their own power – I also get excited. It means that Peace Studies (and Woolman as a whole) is going to be a huge, useful adventure for them.

I feel so lucky that I get to come along on that adventure.

*A term developed by Mohandas Gandhi meaning “truth force” – an attempt to define nonviolence by something that it is, rather than what it is not. 

by Sol Weiner, Woolman Semester Alumni - January 20, 2011

Last night, Van Jones, environmental job advocate and civil rights activist, came to speak to Guilford about how his work which merges environmentalism and civil rights activism, and the work of others in the struggle for social justice, is attempting to actualize the dreams and life work of Dr. Martin Luther King. His work bringing green jobs to communities of color around the country is inspiring, and his explanations for his work were clear, concise, and powerful. Jones vehemently attacked the notion that environmentalism is something for wealthy white people who have nothing better to do. The environment’s woes affect those in poor communities and communities of color the most. However, Jones did not speak solely to the environmental movement; he emphasized the necessity of bringing all of our efforts for social justice together, whether they be working racial equality, LGBTQQIA rights, prison reform, or any other movement towards a just society. They all intersect and influence one another.

Jones asked an important question that set the mood for the night: how is it that some of us will fight to the death to give an aluminum can a second chance when we are willing to throw a person is prison forever, with no chance at redemption at all? Even twenty-four hours later, I haven’t stopped thinking about the implications of his asking this question. During his speech, I found that Jones’s experiences with witnessing issues of social injustice were a lot like mine, even though our life paths have been very different. For Jones, college was a wake up call; not his classes, necessarily, but what he witnessed first-hand while he was there; great disparities in treatment of whites and people of color in the United States in every corner of society, including environmental racism and unequal access to resources such as healthy food and clean water.

When I was a student at the Woolman Semester in 2008, I learned many things, but none stuck with me as much as those things which I myself witnessed first-hand. Jones lives in Oakland now, and a large part of his speech was focused on bringing healthy, local food to places like West Oakland, where there are dozens of liquor stores, but not a grocery store to be found. When I was a student, we visited the People’s Grocery, an urban garden started by Malaika Bishop. I could’ve read as many books as I wanted to, but talking to people who lived in the communities that were forced to deal with these issues had more gravity than anything I could’ve read in a book. Jones emphasized that empowering people to tackle big issues and setting examples for people to follow was more important than telling folks what to do. There are people working everywhere to empower those who have been disenfranchised, and their work is more powerful than a thousand people yelling at you, telling you how to make the world a better place. Jones challenged my ideas of activism, and how we relate to one another as human beings who have a lot of work to do. And not once did he tell me how to do anything. He just showed me.

by Annabelle Marcovici, Woolman Semester Student Fall 10 - January 15, 2011

At Woolman, I spent four months researching and writing a 19 page paper on the conflict between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam - aka the Tamil Tigers - and the Sri Lankan government. As part of the assignment, I am engaging in activism to improve the situation.

I am auctioning ten prints of my photographs and artwork to raise money for the Centre for Peacebuilding and Reconciliation in Sri Lanka, an organization that educates and trains nonviolent youth advocates. I aim to raise enough money to set up at least one young visionary community project. I am supporting this organization because I want disenfranchised minority groups to be aware of and to utilize nonviolent strategies to achieve their objectives instead of resorting to violence.

Supporting grassroots nonviolence efforts is the best way to foster peace in Sri Lanka because ethnic divisions between the government and the people were a result of local ethnic tension. Groups like the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam gained strength because Tamil youth saw no other viable alternatives to regain their cultural legitimacy. Empowering youth with nonviolent solutions takes power away from groups with violent means. My activism also supports the global peace movement by spreading nonviolent tactics to communities that need them most and creates future advocates for larger global structural change by inspiring youth to take global issues into their own hands.

Though the war may be over, peace for Sri Lanka is still far off. Security in Sri Lanka will come only when compassion for other cultures becomes the norm, which means the most effective efforts should begin at the grassroots. Dialogue between formerly opposed groups is one part of this solution, as is community-based education about nonviolent alternatives for youth especially.

Click here to visit the auction page. Please note that the image quality on Ebay is much lower than the actual image quality. To get a better idea of the true image, visit the link in each auction's description.

The auctions end January 24th. Please share this with anyone you think might be interested in helping out, and invite your friends to the Facebook event.

by Megan Bernstein, Woolman Semester Student Fall 2010 - December 15, 2010

As many of you know, The Woolman Semester went to Mexico to study border issues. Because it was a very intense experience, it has been difficult to write about the trip. I hope to give insight to what I learned, and maybe inspire some to study it for themselves and come up with their own opinions.

It was a full and stressful week, and it was hard for me to be there, for many reasons. The rampant poverty was a huge reason, but what really bothered me was the sensation that we were always being watched, by everyone. The huge Border Patrol camera towers are always present. If you walk along the border wall in town, you can see the Border Patrol on the U.S. side following you in trucks. If you walk along it in the desert, the trucks appear out of nowhere to ask what you are doing. Not only were the Border Patrol watching us, the people were. I am not used to being the minority. Everywhere we went people were staring. People even took pictures of us on their cell phones.

We visited many places and homes to try and hear all sides and biases. As a result, I am thoroughly confused. From visiting the homes of families who lived on a maquila salary to visiting the TAKATA maquila (where they make seatbelts); walking to the border wall through the desert and experiencing the Border Patrol driving up on the U.S. side to figure out who we were, to visiting the Border Patrol station in Douglas, Arizona; from participating in a vigil where the all dead migrants found in the county were honored, to visiting Just Coffee, a company that buys the coffee beans for fair prices which makes it possible for the people to stay in Mexico.

I think that our current immigration policy needs to change. At the moment, the policy is that we should make it as difficult as possible to cross the border, even if it means hundreds of people die. Instead we should address the fact that so many people are crossing the border for economic reasons. While in Mexico, it was rare to meet a family that did not have members that have crossed the border to support the family. No matter how many walls we build and trenches we dig, people who are desperate will still find their way over.

The U.S. government should redirect the funds they are using to make better technology so they can catch more people into investing in companies that support fair wages for farmers in Mexican states like Chiapas, which is where many migrants are coming from, like Just Coffee (seriously visit this site, the coffee is amazing). Programs like that will treat the cause of the problem, not just the symptoms.

by Dennis Johnson, student fall 10 - December 10, 2010

   Along our southern border, a metal wall stretches 800 miles separating the United States from Mexico. In an attempt to learn more about the current border policy, I have come to the town of Aqua Prieta with my school. Once past the check point, I feel a tangible change. While the people where no different from those we left behind in Douglas Arizona, the environment was. The further we drove from the border, the more the infrastructure deteriorated. Roads turned from asphalt to dirt. It amazed me how a line in the sand could transform a place.

     On our first day we were invited to dinner by a former migrant named Oscar. When we arrived that evening, we were greeted by a dark house. The structure was simple, dirt floor, cement walls, tin roof, yet it was undoubtedly a home. While the lights were out the house was not vacant; inside sat Oscar with his wife and son preparing a meal for us by candle light. Oscar was a wiry man with strong dark arms baked from the sun. A burley black mustache sat atop his upper lip, emphasizing his bright smile. The deep set wrinkles on his face framed his gleaming brown eyes. As we crowded around a sturdy folding table, Oscar began to tell us of his travels over the years. One thing he said stood out to me. “Getting past the border is easy because in the end it’s just a wall. The most difficult part is when you reach America: it is there you are forced to traverse the borders within people’s hearts.” Oscar’s words made me aware of  more than just the barrier that separates our two countries; it made me aware of the barriers within myself that separate me from other people.

      Since I was a kid, I believed history shaped me. The way African American history was taught to me told a story of an underdog's rise from oppression to equality. Although this conclusion was meant to keep me at ease it never did. I felt that the ending was premature because I didn’t have to look in a textbook to see suffering; I saw it etched in my cousins' faces: witnessed the changes within them every family reunion. Talking to my oldest cousin, I asked how he was doing. “Just getting through life”, is all he said. Those words stuck with me, he was getting through a life and trying to find another one. I wanted to divorce myself from that culture, from all the pain, from all the shame and to somehow make my family exempt from this story. This mindset consumed every part of me: from the way I talked to who I thought I should spent time with. This was the internalized border I built to keep out a life I didn’t want.

    Oscar's talk was significant because it showed me that I couldn’t run through my mental landscape anymore. Even if I did one day make it to that better life I sought it wouldn’t matter; I still wouldn’t be addressing the reason why people choose to run. That day I decided that I would spend my life breaking down the borders that people have within themselves and making it so no one else would ever have to run.

by Annabelle Marcovici, Woolman Semester Student Fall 10 - December 3, 2010

They are not illegal aliens. Call them migrants, undocumented immigrants, economic refugees, human beings, but don’t call them illegals or illegal aliens.
I recently had a conversation with a friend about my Woolman Semester trip to the Mexican border town Auga Prieta, where we learned about border issues firsthand. During the conversation, my friend referred to people I had come to think of as migrants as “illegals,” the same term the border patrol agent used when my semester group toured the border patrol headquarters in Douglas, Arizona. On both occasions, I flinched at the term. Neither the agent nor my friend intended offense, which in my eyes is worse than if they had. The fact that most people don’t consider the phrase “illegal aliens” offensive reflects pervasive hostility towards undocumented migrants that has seeped into our culture and has made us unaware of the implications of how we speak of them.
Let’s break the terms down. What does it mean for a person himself to be illegal? It means that he is not merely a criminal (someone who has committed an unlawful act), but that his very existence is undesirable, deviant, hateful. It equates the person with his actions and symbolically denies him basic human worth.
The word alien further dehumanizes our image of migrants. An alien is a non-human, potentially dangerous entity from a faraway land. We watch movies and TV shows about other creatures also called aliens that want to take over our planet and spread mayhem. Does that sound eerily like: “They’re trying to steal our jobs and cause violence in our streets” to anyone else?
Put the two terms together and you have a loathsome non-human that we can’t relate to. An artificial and somewhat arbitrary line drawn in the sand separates us from this unwanted other, and we support the line because it keeps “them” in their place, away from us. Is it any wonder that people want to make the fence higher and stronger, or that Mexicans are the subject of such bitter resentment? Of course the term “illegal alien” itself is not independently responsible for this form of otherization: it’s a symptom. Still, it is a symptom that compounds the problem because seeing a population as less than human affects our actions towards to that population.
Carmina, the wife of a so-called illegal alien, cooked our group a delicious dinner one of the nights of our trip and told us how she believes that people are people on both sides of the border, and that the most difficult walls to penetrate are those in our hearts. She, her husband Oscar, and their kids were all gracious and welcoming beyond what any of us expected. While we ate by candlelight (they had no electricity), Oscar talked about how he had saved thousands of dollars to apply for a visa and was rejected with no reason given. Even though Oscar works long hours in a maquila they cannot afford to re-apply but even if they could, they would likely get rejected just because they had been rejected the first time.
Oscar crossed into the US because he wanted to support his family and saw no other way. He’s not trying to steal anyone’s anything. He’s a human with kind eyes and good intentions. He is not a special case. He’s the rule, not the exception.
I wish everyone in the US could have eaten dinner with us at Oscar and Carmina’s that night. I wish everyone could have gone on the whole trip, for that matter, and walked with us through the desert to the border wall. I wish everyone could have stood with us along the crowded highway leading up to the Mexican border as we called out the names of hundreds of migrants who had died in their journey, some even younger than me.
If you do nothing else in your life about border issues, speak up when someone uses the term “illegals” or “illegal aliens” to refer to human beings.

by Marie Vastola, Student Fall 2010 - December 1, 2010

“Their deaths are systematic and they're the results of a policy. And it's not just a few. It's thousands." These are the words of John Carlos Frey, producer of The 800 Mile Wall, a documentary describing the human rights atrocities committed along the U.S. - Mexico border since the wall went up in the 1990s. Every year hundreds of people die while crossing into the U.S. From Mexico and Central America. The Clinton administration publicly stated that their immigration policy would funnel migrants into crossing through high risk areas, often leading to death. The administration hoped that death would deter others, but more and more people continue to cross and an increasing amount die doing so. In 2009, authorities discovered 252 bodies of migrants in Arizona alone. Combined with the number of migrants who died in Texas, New Mexico, and California, statistics show more than one person dies every day crossing the border. And those numbers only reflect the bodies discovered. Who knows how many more have lost their lives in our deserts? Furthermore, migrants do not only die in the deserts and mountains. The All American canal that runs part way along California's border has taken lives too. Yet the water company refuses to put in safety features such as ladders or buoys. They know people will die in the canal – the source of San Diego's drinking water – and immigration authorities know too, they accept the deaths as deterrent. They have no plans to construct a fence where the canal acts as a lethal border. The immigration policies of our country reflect those of a country that does not respect human rights.

Participating in the Woolman Semester's Mexico trip, I got to see first hand the affects that our country's immigration policy has on every aspect of life, especially in border towns. We spent four days in Agua Prieta, Mexico, which borders Douglas, Arizona. During our stay we put water out in the desert for migrants, walked to the border fence, toured a border patrol station, visited a migrant resource center, held a vigil for those who have lost their lives crossing into America, cooked meals on a factory worker's salary, visited a hospitality house, drug rehab center, maquila (a factory, maquilas often have sweatshop-like conditions), brick making factory, fair trade coffee roaster, and a community center. While some of these activities – like visiting the coffee roaster – may not seem related to immigration issues, they really are. Cafe Justo supplies consumers with coffee from small farms in the state of Chiapas, Mexico. After the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came into affect, many farmers lost their jobs to due the low cost of imported corn. With the majority of Mexican immigrants to the U.S. coming from Chiapas, Cafe Justo creates jobs there, allowing people to remain in their hometowns. The jobs created by Cafe Justo have fair pay, good working conditions, and environmentally safe practices. And I promise you, this is the best coffee you will ever taste.

While in Mexico I became so much more aware of the issues facing today's migrants. Now, I want to help make you more aware of these issues. I urge you to take action and buy fair trade coffee, write an email to your representative, become involved in local politics on the topic, or donate whatever you can. If no one takes action, nothing will change. Our government will build more fences, more people will die while searching for a better life, small farmers will lose their jobs, and we will live our lives with the knowledge of these occurrences. America came into existence to give people the chance to live better, freer and more fair lives. So let us improve the lives of those less fortunate, our fellow human beings.


Marie Vastola


What you can do:

Write a letter to your representative:

Act locally:

Buy fair trade coffee:




800 Mile Wall. Dir. John Carlos Frey. Perf. Jack Lorenz. Gatekeeper Productions, 2010. DVD.

BorderExplorer. ""Funnel Effect" creates humanitarian emergency on US border ." Breaking News, Current Events, Latest News and World Events at N.p., 26 Feb. 2010. Web. 22 Nov. 2010. <>.

Robbins, Ted. "VPR News: Illegal Immigrant Deaths Set Record In Arizona." Vermont Public Radio: Home of VPR News and VPR Classical, and Vermont's NPR News Station. N.p., 6 Oct. 2010. Web. 22 Nov. 2010. <>.

by Emily Zionts, Global Issues Teacher - November 20, 2010

The flyer posted below was created by Willow Shaughnessey, Woolman Semester student from Fall 2009 as part of her Global Issues' Youth as Peacebuilder project. For the semester long assignment, Willow analayzed the conflict of Transgender Hate Crimes, hoping to come to an understand of the root causes of this worldwide problem. As her case study, she looked deeply into the murder of Lateisha Green, a woman who was killed in 2008.

Willow and I spent an afternoon in Nevada City and Grass Valley, asking stores if we could hang this beautiful piece that she made. The poster has one of my favorite quotes by Leslie Feinberg, statistics related to the issue, as well as a brief paragraph telling about a hate crime victim. Another really neat part of the posters were the tabs that you could tear off the bottom with links to Transgender awareness and support groups. I encourage you to explore the sites yourself!

by Dennis Johnson, student - November 18, 2010

   It is my first day back home, my first day back in civilization, yet something is wrong. I am back in the city, treading water in a sea of human apathy and disinterest. I enter a store and I am blinded by all of the advertisements I see. But now, I cannot turn my surroundings on mute. I am painfully aware of every intention behind these products that I consume and in turn consume me. This is what I wanted, right? To have such knowledge to better myself and free me from the prison of ignorance. However, I feel as if a cruel joke has been played on me. It's as  if I was Neo and someone had told me about the matrix but offered me no pills. 

In such an increasingly interconnected world, I have never felt more alone.

Thus, here is the problem that I was confronted with in the second that I reentered the “real world”.

What do I do with all of this encumbering knowledge once the Woolman Semester is over? 

I realized that what I felt while I was at school wasn't the real world, but a microcosm of what the world should be. I realized that almost every conversation I shared with someone only reinforced my fear that these corporations did not rise to power by some mistake, but by being that good at what they do. Feeling as if I had already been bested by an opponent so far out my league that it wasn't even conscious of my existence, I decided that taking a visit to my high school would be the best place to put the nail in my emotional coffin. Yet, what I saw there did the exact opposite. When I talked to my peers about what I had experienced, they did not sneer at me for disrupting the status quo, but applauded me for giving a name to something they had felt for so long. I found that my generation would no longer be content to stand still and do nothing afterall!

In the end I realized that life at Woolman isn't an example of what life should be but what life could be. A very real and possible reality for us all.

Keith Runyan (left), Dennis Johnson (right)

Photo taken by Annabelle Marcovici

by Grace Oedel, community intern - November 14, 2010

This is from a recent article published in the Central Coast Friends Newsletter!

Journal Entry
October 18, 2010: Following College Park Quarterly Meeting at Sierra Friends Center
Two hours in a Global Issues class of Woolman Semester:

Background: The teacher Emily Zionts “considers this Global Issues Class to be an
international social justice class that encourages students:
to see themselves as Global Citizens,
to recognize and be responsible for the way in which our lifestyles affect others, and
to commit to use our privileges and speak for those who are not heard.

After a hearty breakfast with students and staff, Laura, Ian, and Ella
entered the Meeting House of Sierra Friends Center to attend a class on Global
Issues. About fifteen students from various states and nations gathered around
a large circular table. The teacher, Emily Zionts, wrote material on the board as
BBC global newscasts were audible. Later, students developed a definition for
“globalization,” as Emily wrote their ideas on the board. Then each student
reported the title of an article (effects of globalization at the local level) they
intended to develop into a final report for end of the semester. Directives for
editing a draft report on these articles were stated, using internet resources.
Each student then presented a poster art image based on an article
showing the effects of globalization through various lenses. (I.e. the feminist
perspective, the indigenous perspective, globalization of culture or religion,
etc.) The goal was to portray the “viewpoint of the person” whose perspective
each student read about. Emily asked students in the audience to respond to
each work before the speaker-artist gave his or her interpretation of the image.
Each was asked to respond with words, “If I created that image it would mean
____ to me.” This phrasing opens up multiples interpretations. This is a subtle
way to non-violent communication. After several respondents, the artist
described how he or she sought to symbolically express a sense of truth in the

Emily has posted three of the student images for you to consider and
interpret. Our visit offered a glimpse into the loving care that students, staff
and teachers gather with each other in a Wooman Semester as they learn and
express the dilemmas of our world.

Marijke Wijnen created this oil painting depicting an indigenous woman and an American business man while she was at home over break. She then carried the painting, while still wet, on the plane back to Woolman!


Dennis Johnson's interpretation of a feminist perspective of globalization.

Megan Bernstein created this fabric art as an interpretation of the globalization of religion.

Editor Ella with Ian Adair, Laura Adair, Emily Zionts, and Anne Eggleton

by Emily Zionts, Global Issues Teacher - November 8, 2010

Hello all!

I just wanted to write a quick note to everyone to let you know that we made it to Mexico yesterday afternoon! The drive was long, but beautiful in scenery and good conversations. We had a wonderful morning with the Quaker community on the U.S. side of the border on Sunday. There was a very profound meeting for worship and a sweet potluck for us. Sunday night was really lovely, also. Dinner was hosted by a local family in a very humble abode. They fed us delicious food and shared their stories of their experiences living on the border. The students loved bonding with their small children and teenagers. Finally, we spent some time in the town plaza. The Woolman students had an absolute blast meeting some local kids their age. For more than an hour, they hung out with a few kids who were hilariously trying to teach Keith how to breakdance and then Keith was trying to teach them martial arts.

Today was also filled to the brim with new educational experiences and connections with local families. We even had a birthday party for one of the interns, complete with a pinata and limbo dancing! Tonight, I am exhausted, but ready for another full day tomorrow. The kids are already asleep and lights were just turned out moments ago. The students do not have internet access and so will only call or write when they return, but I just wanted to let everyone know that all is well.

In peace,


by Grace Oedel, community intern - October 28, 2010

Sometimes I read a poem that sums up an experience or belief infinitely more beautifully and clearly than I ever could. For this reason I am commencing a "pertinent poem" series; anytime you read something glorious or revelatory or even just hilarious, why not post it for others to enjoy? It would be wonderful if anyone else had a poem they would like to share!

The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

by Wendell Berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion - put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

by Marijke Winjen, Student Fall 2010 - October 16, 2010

The following is an Opinion Editorial Piece written for Marijke's local paper as a Global Issues assignment:

Growing up in South Bend, Halloween was always one of my favorite times of the year. I loved dressing up and trick-or-treating, and of course I loved the candy! After trick-or-treating, I would lay all my bounty out on the floor, and admire the small piles of M&Ms, Reese's, Snickers and Nerds. This year, my excitement for Halloween is tinged with sadness. I love to see the smiles on all the kids' faces, but I can't help thinking of the children I am not seeing. I can't help thinking of the young slaves on the Ivory Coast, producing the cholocate which we all enjoy on Halloween.

Forty-three percent of the word's chocolate supply comes from the Ivory Coast. Some of this chocolate is produced by modern day slaves. According to the BBC, hundreds of thousands of children are stolen or sold into slavery and sent to the Ivory Coast to work on cocoa farms. These children often come from poverty stricken neighboring countries such as Mali, Burkina Faso, and Togo. Once the children arrive on the Ivory Coast, they are forced to work 80-100 hours a week, with no pay and barely any food. They are often severely beaten. Usually, they never see their families again. In 2002, a survey done by the Internaitonal Institute of Tropical Agriculture estimated that over 200,000 children were working in hazardous conditions on the Ivory Coast.

Documentary film director, Brian Woods said:

"It isn't the slavery we are all familiar with and most of us imagine was abolished decades ago. Back then, a slave owner could produce documents to prove ownership. Now, its a secretive trade which leaves behind little evidence. Modern slaves are cheap and disposable. They have three things in common with their ancestors: They aren't paid, they are kept working by violence or the threat of it, and they are not free to leave."

Many large candy corporations say they have no way of knowing whether their chocolate was produced with slave labor because chocolate produced with slaves on the Ivory Coast is mixed with paid labor before it reaches the U.S. Companies whose chocolate could be contaminated by slave labor (according to John Robbin's 2010 article "Is there Slavery in Your Chocolate?") include:

  • M&M Mars
  • Hershey Food Corp.
  • ADM Cocoa
  • Ben & Jerry's
  • Cadbury Ltd.
  • Chocolates by Bernard Callebaut
  • Fowler's Chocolate
  • Godiva
  • Guittard Chocolate Co.
  • Kraft
  • Nestle
  • See's Candies
  • The Chocolate Vault
  • Toblerone

Some of these companies have take steps to move away from chocolate that may have been produced with slave labor. Unfortunately, Hershey Food Corp., which dominates 42.5% of the U.S. chocolate market had lagged behind all of the other chocolate companies in making these steps (according to a 2010 report from Global Exchange). That means my favorites: Hershey Kisses, Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, and Hershey Bars are still tainted with child labor, trafficking, and forced labor.

The good news is that there are many alternatives! More and more chocolate companies are going the organic (none of the farms in Ivory Coast are OG) and fair trade route that are guaranteed to not be produced by slaves. These include chocolate from the following companies:

  • Cliff Bar
  • Cloud Nine
  • Dagoba Organic Chocolate
  • Denman Island Chocolate
  • Gardners Candies
  • Green and Blacks
  • Kailua Candy Company
  • Koppers Chocolate
  • L.A. Burdick Chocolates
  • Montezuma's Chocolates
  • Newman's Own Organics
  • Omanhene Cocoa Bean Co.
  • Rapunzel Pure Organics
  • The Endangered Species Chocolate Co.

Prior to the Civil War, many abolitionists in America boycotted all slave produced items under the Free Produce Movement. Let us follow in our ancestors footsteps and boycott all slave produced chocolate. Halloween is one of the best times of year for chocolate companies. Let's make our feelings known by not supporting them this Halloween!



by Annabelle Marcovici, Student Fall 2010 - October 14, 2010

A stroll through the typical American grocery store reveals much about what it means to live in this country. Aisles stocked with instant soup, meals that boast of preparation times quicker than an average commercial break, and pre-prepared salads all represent side effects of a culture that no longer believes it has time in a day for three square meals. We feel rushed – over-stimulated to the point of anxious frenzy – and thus, helplessly unable to respond to the daily blur of messages all demanding our attention. The result: widespread Spectatoritis, a paralyzing passivity disorder whose symptoms include the expectation of fulfillment from electronic screens, disengagement from community, and disinterest in issues and events that directly affect the sufferers.

Modern entertainment ranks high on the list of causes for this disease. Television series specifically offer the impression of connections with the main characters, whom struggle through trials and play out their own scripted interpersonal relationships, requesting only the audience’s attention in return. This form of connection (if it should even be considered such) requires none of the work that real relationships do, nor any of the risk. The bond people form with “their” shows bears as much resemblance to human relationships as a Hot Pocket does to food grown in one’s own garden, and offers equal sustenance. Television is a poor substitute for authentic interaction and can leave viewers with a sense of emptiness at having gotten to know a cast of characters un-invested in its audience. It neither knows nor cares who watches, so long as its spectators remain idle consumers.

News media, too, benefits from Spectatoritis. People have come to view content labeled “news” as objective truth without critically examining who produced it, for what purpose, and potential bias. It is easier to assume that a credentialed professional has thoroughly researched a given topic before presenting it to the general public, and that reporters have done their homework. We trust sound bites on the evening news, as doing so requires less of us than researching an event from multiple sources or searching for answers to difficult questions such as: “Why did the BBC focus on this story as opposed to another?” Companies that produce news have a profit motive and ultimately act in that interest above that of broadening public awareness. Blind trust in objectivity generates their revenue but like entertainment media, it leaves its audience with a shallow pseudo-connection to its world.

It is little wonder that a culture of people detached from each other and their environment does not foster genuine participation. Bumper sticker activism is a reaction to snippets, clips, and flashes of information about the issues that should incite riotous protest. Where are the incensed masses speaking out against corporatism, environmental degradation, or widespread rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo? They are on their couches listening to CNN tell them how sending a text message to a relief organization is good enough. They are zoning out to Jeopardy. They are on their computers transfixed by live footage of oil flowing into the ocean, miles away from their suburban homes.

by Angelina Conti, Peace Studies Teacher - September 2, 2010

Rebecca Garnault, a Spring 2010 alum and Woolman's first international student, was recently awarded the John Lennon Memorial Scholarship at the University of Liverpool. The scholarship is awarded based on academic merit an a "demonstrable interest in global, community or environmental issues." Becky's application focused on her work at Woolman, which included a documentary film on the experience of refugees in the United States, a sustainability project focused on water scarcity and rain water catchment, and a YAP project focused on conflict minerals in the Congo. 

One requirement of the scholarship is that Becky write a thank you letter to Ms. Yoko Ono - whom she plans to tell all about Woolman. 

Congratulations, Becky! 

by Emily Zionts, Global Issues Teacher - August 21, 2010

Today’s youth are coming to age in a world with violent conflicts of unmatched magnitude.  The scope of these crises range from the intra-personal reflected by the high rates of depression and anxiety to the macro levels of continued development of weapons of mass destruction, armed conflicts between states and ethnic groups, the spread of racism, gender inequality, community violence, the huge and widening gap between the rich and the poor throughout the globalized economy, massive violations of human rights and the degradation of the environment (Hague Appeal for Peace, 2005). No longer is anyone on the planet exempt from the consequences of these global problems. In an analysis of these calamities and the extent to which they permeate the daily lives of so many, it is not presumptuous to say that we are living in a culture of violence. 

While it could hardly be argued that education for peace is critical in these times, Peace Education has been minimized because of the public perception that it is a “soft” discipline. In T the United States, public education is widely thought to be an objective transference of knowledge that encourages successful citizenship. In my life experience, this purpose is often found to be synonymous with "adopting standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace and to compete in the global economy"(Education, 2010). The perception of education for peace is that the curriculum that most American children are receiving is laden with the promotion of values such as competition, militarism, ethnocentrism, and unchecked capitalism. Proponents of Peace Education believe that “in order for democracy to work, individuals must feel a connection with each other that transcends the selfishness, competitiveness, and brutal self-interests of an ever expanding market economy” (Giroux, 2001, p. 62).

Although many disciplines are encompassed within the spectrum of Peace Education (i.e. Human Rights Education, Disarmament Education, or Education for Sustainable Development), practitioners are explicit with their agenda and social goals. In order to discuss a Peace Education intervention, the first step is to define these goals. The framework that is particularly relevant is the “Flower-petal” model (Figure 1) created by Toh and Cawagas (2002).

Topics within the Peace Education Flower Model include:

  1. Educating for Dismantling the Culture of War (also known as a Culture of Violence): The goals of this theme are to encourage a moral commitment to non-violence, to recognize the Culture of War around and within the individual, to acknowledge the roots of violence and visualize the potential for peace, take steps towards abolishing the arms trade and understand and practice the principles of Conflict Resolution.


  • Educating for Living With Justice and Compassion: The objectives of this subject include raisingawareness of the consequences of profit driven development. It also consists of a thorough examination of lifestyles and the way in which they connect to crises, such as poverty, urban slums, rich-poor inequalities, and hunger. Connections of lifestyle to racism, sexism, classism, and environmental degradation will be included as well.


  • Educating for Building Cultural Respect, Reconciliation and Solidarity:  Lessons for this aspect of Peace Education will not only emphasize “enjoying and celebrating diversity,” but move towards developing a deeper understanding and a strong sense of empathy and responsibility to advocate for those groups who are suffering injustices. An examination of past conflicts and reconciliation processes, both successful and failed is an important component of this topic.


  • Educating for Promoting Human Rights and Responsibilities:In order to teach about the responsibilities that we have as global citizens to protect the Human Rights of others, it is vital to raise awareness of those rights and how they are violated around the world. A critical goal for this theme is to explore the role of Human Rights education in peacebuilding.


  • Educating Living in Harmony with the Earth: A foundational principle of this petal is that humans are not separate from nature. This implies that our actions have reactions within the natural world and currently this has caused a state of environmental emergency.  Lessons for this petal will include exploring the limits to growth, as well as the visionary and practical actions of the sustainable development movement.


  • Educating for Cultivating Inner Peace: The goals of this unit include introducing students to tools that help them to manage their own emotions. These tools include but are not limited to:  how to react to feelings of anger and sadness, techniques for calming ourselves, non-violent communication, deep listening, and encouraging outlets for self-expression.

An educator who is informed by this structure will use the petals as themes in order to organize a curriculum. The shape of a flower is used to show the organic interconnectedness of the categories (with a useful metaphor of sharing “roots”) in a holistic vision.Whether in a formal (structured school setting), non-formal (an education program that has less structure such as camp), or informal educational context (all other modes of learning such as from the media or peers), the six principles of Peace Education will be used as the foundations for my methodology. Each principle encourages critical thinking for in-depth examinations of not only the problems facing the world today, but the roots of these conflicts. Equally important is the balance of discussing the crises with discussing and acting upon viable solutions. Without the emphasis on action, learners are left feeling depressed and disempowered. All of the sections share a goal of transforming learners into peace activists.

 The ultimate goal of Peace Education is to educate our citizens to embody the wisdom and capacities for supporting a Culture of Peace. The Campaign Statement of the Global Campaign for Peace Education state that:

 “A culture of peace will be achieved when citizens of the world understand global problems, have the skills to resolve conflict constructively; know and live by international standards of human rights, gender and racial equality; appreciate cultural diversity; and respect the integrity of the Earth. Such learning cannot be achieved without intentional, sustained and systematic education for peace.”

The Campaign Statement of the Global Campaign for Peace Education is available online at

A fundamental activity in the Peace Education curriculum is to dialogue about the various meanings and perceptions of ideas such as: peace, conflict, culture of peace or violence, and Peace Education itself. This very process will enhance the critical thinking of the students that is a skill that can be generalized to all learning.  The perception of “Peace” by one individual may not have the same meaning to another. The following discussion will be the definition of terms that will be utilized through this paper:

Peace” and what Johan Galtung, the grandfather of Peace Studies described as "positive peace "are interchangeable in this document.  Galtung (1964), who first explained these differences in the Journal of Peace Research in 1964, wrote that peace is not only an absence of violence ("negative peace"), but also a process where participants creatively work towards non-violence in terms of interactions with: oneself, others, communities, the government and the environment (Galtung, 1964). Violence is not to be confused with conflict in this context.  To work for peace, one attempts to avoid and even eliminate violence. Yet, it is understood that conflict is a very natural and necessary part of life. Conflict provides an opportunity to reflect upon one’s actions and assess situations for possible change. The violent reactions to conflict are contrary to PE which allows individuals and groups to change through education, mediation, negotiation, and living by example. 

Prolific author and founding Director of the Peace Education Center at Columbia University, Betty Reardon (2001), defined the Culture of Violence as:

“…the aggregation of world views, ways of thinking and problem-solving that lead to the continuous use of violence and armed force. It permeates social attitudes, individual and group behaviors, and human relations from the most intimate and fundamental to the most distant and institutional. In a culture of war and violence, human inequality is assumed to be natural and violence in the pursuit of social and political purposes is legitimized as necessary and inevitable” (p.196).

More and more, it is being recognized that if individuals and groups continue in this way of interacting with ourselves, each other, and the environment, it will be to the irreversible detriment of all species. All of these crises are inherently interwoven at the roots, as are the ways of working towards their solutions. The alternative vision to a Culture of Violence has been further defined by the United Nations

“The Culture of Peaceis a set of values, attitudes, modes of behavior and ways of life that reject violence and prevent conflicts by tackling their root causes to solve problems through dialogue and negotiation among individuals, groups and nations.

(UN Resolutions A/RES/52/13 : Culture of Peace and A/RES/53/243, Declaration and Program of Action on a Culture of Peace).

The actions that bring individuals and societies closer to the realization of a Culture of Peace include taking a critical look at the conditions under which violence thrives. This begins at a very personal, reflective level as individuals learn how to understand their emotions for more conscious decision-making (versus knee-jerk reactions). Intra-personal goals for creating a peaceful culture also include raising self esteem, learning how to express oneself, and gaining a sense of agency. The next stage extends to interactions within and between groups; including relationships with friends, families, neighbors, communities, states, and even fellow global citizens. On an interpersonal level this means communicating non-violently, participating in the decisions that have an effect on micro and macro scales and actively working for social justice. Promoting a Culture of Peace emphasizes empowering under-represented groups to allow for their voices to be heard. There is also an essential component of confronting those practices that are unsustainable for the environment and the non-human living beings. As the connections between attaining a culture of peace and halting the degradation of the environment become clearer, the examination of the choices that support our lifestyle and creatively implement alternatives will take place.

Transforming a culture of violence into a culture of peace entails working through the stages from intrapersonal awareness (micro) to global peace and justice (macro). Examining both conflicts and social movements from past, present, and future perspectives is equally important in order to understand that violence does not occur in a vacuum.  The following framework (Figure 2) was designed by Haavelsrud (1996) to illustrate the implications of contextual conditions in Peace Education. This framework is useful to empower learners to make connections between what they are learning and the world around them. Additionally, it allows them to see their place in the world and create future visions for the change that they want to create. Just as the UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific, and Cultural Organization) constitution states:  “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed”(UNESCO, 1945). 


My masters in Peace Education classmates and I at The United Nations Mandated University for Peace!

by Maggie, Student-Spring 2010 - August 20, 2010

My collage is an illustration of the passive response to  the momentous and important global issues by victims of Spectatoritis. The eyes, shocked and paralyzed, represent the victim. The photos are a medley of the struggles, business decisions, victories and tragedies that one might watch from a distance and never take part in or take action on. The collage is bordered by a television frame, as if the collage were the frame, because television is where most of our nation's spectating happens.


by Emily Zionts, Global Issues Teacher - June 23, 2010

The Youth as Peacebuilders (YAP) Project is an assignment in the Global Issues class at Woolman. The assignment lasts through out the semester and starts with students choosing a world conflict that they feel passionately about changing. There are 2 major components to the project--the first is a 10-15 page paper where the youth research and analyze the conflict--paying very close attention to represent BOTH sides of the issue. They look at the contextual factors which have influenced the problem (gender, religion, economic, political, geographical), the structural causes, roots or institutions that encourage it and students also look into ally organizations which are working to help transform the conflict!

The second part of the YAP is where the teens choose an action which utilizes their best talents to make positive change for their issue! This is often begun at Woolman, but carried on after they return home.

Here are 2 wonderful examples of students that used their fabulous art skills to fundraise for issues they are passionate about:

Ben (Fall 09) wrote an amazing paper about the conflict in India between Monstanto and Indian Farmers. The paper was excellently researched and highlighted the unbalanced power dynamics between the two groups. His activism for the YAP was a most fashionalbe t-shirt (tagged) which he designed, printed, and sold for donations towards an institution which fights for policies which support farmers!

Katherine (Spring '10) became quite involved with indigenous peoples' rights for her YAP. Her completed paper was both informative and emotional in its description of a tribe in northern Columbia (the U'wa) and their non-violent battle against Occidental Petroleum Company. Katherine was inspired to use her keen drawing talents to create this charcoal portrait of an indigenous woman. She is currently selling raffle tickets for the drawing. The proceeds will go towards an organization fighting for indigenous rights (!

These are just a couple of the powerful and creative acts of peacebuilding that Woolmanites were involved with this year:

Katherine Stone

Katherine and her portrait of an indigenous woman!

Maria and Ben's Shirt

Here's Maria (in the center) sporting the latest in anti-oppression fashion :) This Sring semester student purchased one of Ben's shirts even though she had never met him. Sorry for the shirt getting cut off at the bottom, it says: No Farmers, No Food!

Ben in the Garden

Ben in the Woolman garden :)