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Tutu tells teens they can change the world -- and they must

Monday, September 18, 2006

DENVER -- Archbishop Desmond Tutu looked across a sea of cheering teenagers from around the globe Sunday, saying they not only can change the world, but they must.

"I look at you, and I am in awe," he said on the final day of an international call for peace and action called PeaceJam. "You are the ones who are going to make this a better world."

The South African archbishop, the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, was one of 10 Nobel laureates to commune with 3,000 young people from 31 countries for the 10th anniversary of the PeaceJam movement at the University of Denver. Over the three-day run, laureates urged the world's youth to yearn for peace -- and to do something about it.

"The fact of the matter is, Nobel laureates don't come floating down from heaven," Tutu said. "There was a time when we were very much like you."

From writing letters urging the United Nations to push the government of Myanmar to change, to seeking the end of political imprisonment worldwide, the laureates demanded that the assembled teens answer the call.

"You come here and you say, 'I will make a difference. I care about poverty. I care about war,"' Tutu said. "And all of you are peacemakers. We are opposed to war. We stand for peace."

After his speech, Tutu called on participants to come onstage and speak about something that inspired them. One by one, from Costa Rica, from Minnesota, from Michigan, teens read a line of poetry or recalled a memory.

One, 23-year-old Lway Cherry of Myanmar, drew a huge crowd by addressing the U.N.'s new role in monitoring the oppressive regime in her country. The Security Council voted last week to put Myanmar and the country's military dictatorship on its agenda.

"I want to thank you, Archbishop Tutu," she said, before turning to him and receiving a hug.

Tutu told the teens not to be overwhelmed by the scope of the world's problems. Even the smallest acts pay big dividends, he said.

"You feed one child, you feed two children, that's important," he said. "That's how you make a difference. You make a difference where you are."

PeaceJam, founded in Arvada, Colo., in 1996 by husband and wife Ivan Suvanjieff and Dawn Engle, is a global program promoting peace through education and encouragement of youth that hosts conventions around the world.


On the Net:

PeaceJam: http://www.peacejam.org


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