PeaceJam: Connecting Teens with Nobel Peace Laureates

PeaceJam: Youth and Nobel Peace Laureates Working Together to Change the World

Have you heard about PeaceJam yet?  It’s an international educational program that connects young people with Nobel Peace Laureates, built on three simple ideas: Education, Inspiration, and Action.  The mission of the PeaceJam Foundation is, “to create young leaders committed to positive change in themselves, their communities and the world through the inspiration of Nobel Peace Laureates who pass on the spirit, skills, and wisdom they embody.” Here’s how it began:

In a recent interview with Western MA native, Donovan Arthen, regional coordinator for PeaceJam New England, Donovan shared more about PeaceJam and about an exciting spring conference happening in Connecticut in coming weekend, April 6-7 at the University of Connecticut in Storrs.

How did you get involved?

DONOVAN: I started as a college-aged mentor in 2007 after my sister attended a national conference and started a PeaceJam Ambassadors group at Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter School.  I’ve been going to the Conferences and Slams ever since as a mentor, an MC or a workshop leader. It has been a significant part of my life for a long time.

What are the most rewarding aspects of being involved with PeaceJam for you?

DONOVAN: Well, there are quite a few aspects that make me feel fulfilled by what I do with PeaceJam. If I were going to choose one though, I would have to say that it is experiencing the youth at the different program sites and at the conferences. It was this that got me so excited about PeaceJam in the first place. There is an amazing quality of feeling that I get when I see these young people, so motivated, so active, so passionate about making a difference. It is incredible to see these youth stepping forward and being leaders in their communities right now, and embracing the power that they have to create meaningful change.

Can you tell me a little bit about the conference – who is it for and what will happen during the weekend?

DONOVAN: This conference is for mainly for young people between the ages of 13-18. We will also have college-aged mentors and adult advisors there, but it really is mainly for the teens. We start early on Saturday morning, April 6th at the University of CT. There are workshops, a few sessions with our special guest, nobel peace laureate Jody Willimas – who is really a dynamic presence – opportunities to do service projects and meet with other “Jammers” just to talk. We will have a celebration on Saturday night, and then gather again on Sunday, April 7th,  more of the same.  – The conference is open to all teens interested in making the world a better place.

What do you think are some of the best things that teenagers can get out of PeaceJam and out of the conference in particular?

DONOVAN: You know, it is inspirational to learn about and see the Nobel Laureates – to hear what they have to say in person, but it is just about as exciting to be able to connect with other young people who really want to make a difference. You can get a lot of ideas about service projects you can do yourself and get energized by the kids who are really into it. We have a lot of fun.

To find out more about PeaceJam, visit their web site at  If you have questions about the New England PeaceJam Conference happening this weekend at the University of Connecticut, email Donovan at


Donovan Arthen grew up in Worthington, attending first the Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School in Haydenville, MA, and then Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter School. He returned to the Hilltowns a couple of years ago after studying world music and graduating from Weslyean University in Middletown, CT, with honors in 2011. Currently Donovan is the regional coordinator for PeaceJam New England and is organizing their annual conference which will be held the weekend of April 6 & 7, 2013.

One Comment on “PeaceJam: Connecting Teens with Nobel Peace Laureates

  1. I encourage parents to invite their teens to participate in this conference coming up. My 2 kids, now adults went to Peace Jam conferences through our Unitarian Universalist youth group program. And I went to the local lecture at Elms College. It will offer them an unforgettable experience. I am sure it has shaped them both, meeting these peace laureates and hearing about their work, their lives, and meeting young people from all over the world. I think that they brought away from it, a much greater sense for the global community and the issues people struggle with, as well as what it takes to be a peace maker in the world. In a world where kids hear so much about what is wrong with it, this was a great experience in what is right with it, where the peace is being created.

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