Courage, Resilience and Spiritual Strength: Peace Educators in Puerto Rico

The U. of Puerto Rico’s Rio Piedras campus, after Hurricane Maria. (Photo: Pablo Pantoja, Anadolu Agency, Getty Images - via The Chronicle of Higher Education)

The Global Campaign for Peace Education and the International Institute on Peace Education have a long standing relationship with the peace educators of the UNESCO Chair in Education for Peace at the University of Puerto Rico. The university was severely hit by Hurricane Maria that devastated the whole island in September. Puerto Rico is still in dire condition, most without running water and electricity and enduring shortages or total lack of many essentials.

For American peace educators living on the mainland, especially those who participated in the 2013 IIPE at UPR, the continued deprivations of our fellow citizens are a sorrow and a shame. Yet the courage and resilience of our Puerto Rican colleagues provide us with hope and demonstrates that to be a peace educator means to be devoted to learning to overcome obstacles to justice and to continue to strive for peace in all circumstances. Such is evident in reports from Prof. Anita Yudkin, who tells us that her students are eager to return to their studies, and in the lines below from Prof. Anaida Pascual Moran.

Readers who wish to learn a bit more about the fundamental circumstances of Puerto Rico and the historical roots of current conditions might read (and perhaps sign) the Statement for Puerto Rico.  

-Betty Reardon 11/8/17

Here is what Anaida writes:

Last Saturday, I met with some of my graduate students from 8:30 AM to 4 PM. Regularly my classes are at night, but due to energy and security problems owing to lack of electricity, the University of Puerto Rico will close daily at 5 PM. So, we will meet on Saturdays and Sundays during the day, since most of the students work Monday through Friday.

I was not only energized, but deeply moved and inspired by their resilience and spiritual strength, in spite of the circumstances. For example, two of them, one from Vega Alta and the other from Moca (interior of the island), lost their houses – literally, their roofs flew away. All of them, but especially these two students, have to struggle every day to be able to do things we usually take for granted. Of course, they do not yet have electricity or Internet. Some of them still do not have water every day. And still, their conviction to study and forge a better future for our island-nation and themselves is clear and solid. I really admire them and once more have another proof of why I love my teaching vocation…

-Anaida Pascaul Moran, 11/5/17

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