Reflections on Leymah Gbowee

The 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Forum in March will celebrate and honor Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Leymah Gbowee, and this is a great opportunity to reflect on the journey for lasting peace, not only in Liberia, but also around the world. It is especially worthy to note the incredible and ultimate sacrifices that have been made in the process of obtaining peace – which is so often fragile, and protecting human rights – which is so often denied.

I have known few greater honors in my life than the opportunity to introduce Leymah Gbowee during the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Forum at Augsburg College, the year before she was awarded the Peace Prize. She is one of the most fearless and bravest leaders in the world who, in the face of great danger, stood up to the warlords and passionately plead the case for peace in Liberia.

I have been greatly impacted and inspired by her work. As a former refugee from Liberia myself, Leymah has inspired me to be a leader and to give back to my community. My experience from the Nobel Peace Prize Forum and the connections established at Augsburg College have led me to serve on the Board of Directors of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, working to resettle thousands of refugees in the U.S. from around the world. I went on to graduate school at the University of San Francisco, CA, where I earned my master’s degree in education (with an emphasis on human rights education). I’m currently writing my memoir – my story of survival as a refugee, from peril to protection.

Richmond Bloh Appleton

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