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Why Do We Care?

Updated: Jun 6

In just a few weeks, participants in the Coexistence: Case Study on Peace & Change Buddies Without Borders Online Forum will discuss what it means to coexist, brainstorm ways to achieve equality peacefully and create a campaign to advocate their approach in this competition for world peace. The application deadline is June 14th.

As we review the applications, we ask them why they care. Here is one powerful reflection from Rwanda that deserves a shout-out:

"Coexistence refers to the idea of living alongside others, at the same time and in the same place, peacefully. I am interested in this topic as I consider coexistence to essentially act as a framework for working in conflict prevention and resolution. The ability of people to live peacefully alongside each other, particularly as a matter of policy, allows for the prevention, reduction, and elimination of violence and highly destructive conflict. Additionally, I believe that this term implies a cross-cultural, cross-sectoral, and multi-level effort in implementing policies directed toward integration, diversity, and true collaboration.

What I have observed in my daily life that makes me feel the need to address this issue is how often coexistence has become synonymous with ignorance, “compromise,” and the idea of “burying the hatchet” or “getting over it.” I’ve had people tell me that, for the sake of “keeping the peace” and remaining cordial, I should essentially ignore when others mean to harm me. I see that this phenomenon largely affects women of color such as myself. We, women, minorities, and other groups, are told that coexistence requires one to give up their ideals and become the other.

We are told that coexistence requires everyone to be identical and demands homogeneity and uniformity across groups living together. I believe this to be false and extremely harmful, as homogeneity erases all the beauties and nuances of humanity along with all the possibilities that come with diverse groups of people. Coexistence requires empathy, courage, and understanding. I wish to argue for these concepts to become what coexistence is seen as." ~ Aya Desie, Student at International School of Kigali

At the time of writing the above essay, Aya Desie was a freshman at the International School of Kigali. Over the 2023-2024 school year, she was a prominent member of her school's service learning club, working on numerous projects over her first venture into inter-community service. Of Ethiopian descent, Aya is passionate about a myriad of contemporary social issues, and engaging in healthy debate over today's occurrences.

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