CentrePeace focuses on local and global issues


West African drummer Yaya Diallo and his wife, Harlina Churn-Diallo, a dancer, will give a performance Thursday at Centre College that highlights CentrePeace's spotlight on African politics and society this semester.

CentrePeace President Meghan Langley said the group often focuses on issues facing Latin America "because of the interests of its members and the immediate relevance of such issues in a state/country with a rapidly increasing Latino population."

"We decided to branch out this semester fueled largely by the interests of students who have recently traveled (to Africa)," Langley said.

Langley said CentrePeace tries "to raise campus awareness of social and environmental justice issues occurring globally and locally.

"We do this by educating ourselves about the issues and then passing this information on to others, often through hosting educational seminars and films and distributing literature," Langley said.


"CentrePeace is a valuable resource for students who feel a need to examine the causes of social injustice and to understand the systems that allow such circumstances to exist. This necessitates looking at the far-reaching impacts of our own lifestyles and consumption habits.

"Many people think of voting as the single greatest power of the individual in a democratic society such as ours, but only in the context of political elections. However, every time we buy a product, we are making a 'vote' in support of all the practices that consequentially arise from the manufacture of that product. When we can, we find out what these practices are and how they affect other human beings and the environment."

The group generally meets at least every other week, and more often if an event is being planned.

"Typical discussions at CentrePeace meetings are critical responses to current events. How does the media make us perceive world events and what hidden agendas may exist? What 'truths' are obscured by popular conceptions of world events? Such discussions are an important first step in being a more responsible citizen."

Frequently, faculty members' expertises are used for panel discussions and informative lectures, Langley said. Later this semester, Centre professor and aficionado of African studies Lori Hartmann-Mahmud will discuss personal reflections - hopes and frustrations - about development in Africa and field questions about her experience in the Peace Corps, Langley said.

Paul G. Blazer Associate Professor of Economics David Anderson said of the group, "CentrePeace is a treasure to us because the mutual respect it teaches is the secret to a less primitive, more felicitous society."

CentrePeace has a number of strengths, Langley said.

"(It) encourages critical thinking about important issues and encourages participants to take initiative in putting together events/projects that are of interest to them," she said.

"It is a great learning experiment in grassroots organizing, networking, communicating and debating."

Organization could become even better

She believes the organization could become even better over the next few years.

"I think we should be doing more community service and fund raising for charity events," Langley said.

"Nothing promotes peace better than getting people involved in projects that actively involve them giving back to their community.

"CentrePeace should be broadening our base of knowledge. Many of us are very educated about economics, politics and social justice in Latin America, but less knowledgeable in other areas. This is changing however, as we have many fresh faces this year."

Highlighting more issues of local and regional importance also could improve the organization, she said.

Currently, CentrePeace participants mostly are students and faculty of the college.

"Though we are looking for opportunities to include more members of the Danville community as well," she said.

"One easy way we hope to do this is by hosting more film nights and music events. ... We would certainly be open to having community members come to meetings, etc., but have never had an efficient means of networking with them."

For more information, call Langley at (502) 494-8169.

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