On a rainy Friday afternoon, over 40 Kroc School Alumni came together to reconnect and celebrate twenty years of graduates from the Masters of Peace & Justice program and all Kroc School alumni. Classmates reconnected and new connections were made as cohorts mingled across the years.
During the event, Diana Kutlow (MAPJ 2003) shared a letter from a fellow classmate, Judy Kamanyi (MAPJ 2003), who lives in Uganda, on the tremendous impact the Kroc School has had on her life and the importance of the work. It was a wonderful moment, to connect Kroc Alumni and Faculty from over the years.
After graduating from the Kroc School, I returned home to Uganda in September 2003 and since then over the last 20 years I had the privilege of working on peace building and conflict prevention programs and projects with several national, regional and global civil society organizations, government agencies, bilateral and multilateral institutions in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, South Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda, as well as other countries where armed conflicts recur and still rage.
I still work with women’s rights organizations on gender equality programming and advocate for concerted implementation of UN Security Council resolutions 1325 on women, peace and security and 2250 on youth, peace and security, in spaces and on platforms at national and regional level. I engage duty bearers and other stakeholders on the imperative for sustained investments in programs that put women at the center of socio-economic development, in line with the goals of the 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly goal 4 on education, goal 5 on gender equality and goal 16 on peace and justice. Currently my seminal work, as an Eminent Woman of the Women’s Situation Room Uganda, is building a culture of peace and tolerance in all electoral processes in my country.
My time at the Kroc School helped grow my appreciation of the diverse and complex social issues that directly impact the lives of women and men, regardless of their identity and geographical location, and empowered me to proactively advance wider and deeper public understanding of the destructive dynamics and complexities of armed conflict and its negative impact on societies, particularly the gendered impact.
In 2003, the war in Iraq was raging and today globally the number of wars sadly have increased significantly, with the war in Ukraine having dire social and economic ramifications across the world. Violent conflicts, fragile states, instability, constrained access to social justice and the increasing environmental injustices remain a great threat not only to sustainable development but also to the very existence of planet earth. With these serious challenges facing humanity, Kroc alumni remain critical actors in propelling peace-building and conflict prevention interventions, wherever they are, for societal transformation.
Lastly, keeping in touch with the Kroc inaugural class of 2003, as well as some former faculty and Rotarians dedicated to sustainability of Kroc and its programs, remains important to me because it strengthens international and cross-cultural exchange. I especially treasure my 19-years of communicating remotely with Diana Kutlow, a class of 2003 cohort and alumnus, which I believe was because of the interactions we had in our classes - the dialogues, as well as the spaces that were created for academic discourse, open engagement and exchange of thoughts around national and global peace and justice issues that were held in the renowned Kroc auditorium.
I wish you all a memorable reunion and celebration of 20 years of Kroc School Alumni.