How does a biology student end up working as an intern for the Nobel Peace Prize Forum? Well, here’s my story. I’ll start where it all began…
Delightful smells, both salty and sweet, permeate the summer air. Small birch plaques painted in bright colors with names like Haru, Lauri and Давид hang around each person’s neck from plastic string. Music, in languages from all over the world, fills my ears as the boys and girls around me relish the opportunity to dance with strangers from other villages. These are the sights and sounds that bring me back to the Concordia Language Villages’ International Day. On this day, kids from all different backgrounds get together to celebrate different cultures and promote peace.
I’ll back up a step. I was a camper (or villager, as we call them at CLV) and eventually a counselor at Salolampi, the Finnish language village. While there, I ate sweet cardamom bread, built my Finnish vocabulary and sweated in the lakeside sauna. Through all this, I developed a love and appreciation for Finnish language and culture.
Each summer at camp, one of the days I looked forward to most was I-day (this was what we called international day). The mission of CLV is to prepare young people for responsible citizenship in the global community. At I-day, we celebrate our cultural diversity by promoting respect and tolerance. It was my many summers spent at the Villages, and at International Day in particular, that fostered my interest in peace making.
My love of the Finnish language followed me to college, where my biology major didn’t stop me from enrolling in Finnish language courses at the University of Minnesota. One day in class, our professor told us about a big event that would be happening in Minneapolis: the Nobel Peace Prize Forum. At this event, the former president of Finland and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Martti Ahtisaari, would be delivering the keynote speech. I decided to attend.
At the forum, I learned about Martti Ahtisaari’s work in international conflict resolution, which spoke to my interest in cross-cultural communication and understanding. I attended a variety of events at NPPF that weekend, and came away with a deeper appreciation for and understanding of the face of peace work in our world today.
The only problem was that Ahtisaari’s context didn’t really seem to apply to me – a science major with an interest in medicine. How can a doctor or scientist approach peace making? Then, late this summer, I saw that the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize Forum would be addressing science and health specifically. When I saw that there was an opening for a Science and Health Day intern, I immediately applied. And now, here I am! I’m thrilled to be a part of this fantastic event.
Science and Health Day is exciting for me because I see it as an opportunity to celebrate peace work by scientists and health professionals in action and to inspire a new generation of scientists and health care providers. So, that’s my story- that’s how I got involved in the Nobel Peace Prize Forum. I’m eager to learn more about the role of science and health in peace and about some of the inspiring individuals who are currently working to make our world a better place!
NPPF Science and Health Day Intern