Breakthroughs Online
January 2011Issue No. 7


In his New Year message, Rajmohan Gandhi, the outgoing International President of Initiatives of Change, gives this challenge, "I want all of us, including myself, to raise our mental and spiritual restlessness over the deliberate heartless killings that occur in places like Pakistan and Iraq, and elsewhere, and to search for steps, no matter how small or indirect, that may make a difference."  (To read more)

In this issue of Breakthroughs we bring you stories of people who are acting with courage and finding ways to bring hope.  To be effective change makers, who we are is as important as what we do. These individuals have taken the time to look inward as well as to reach outward.


As we connect globally we also look ahead to the 2011 summer conferences in Caux, Switzerland where people find new direction for their lives and their communities. We describe a number of exciting opportunities for young people to be part in this global experience.  


Building Trust Offering Hope in Cancun

Building Trust, Offering Hope in Cancún



Fabiola Benavente was part of the delegation representing Initiatives of Change at the recent COP16, UN conference on climate change in Cancún, Mexico. She and fellow Mexican Caux Scholar graduate, José Carlos, hosted this international team that had first formed around the theme of "Living Sustainably" at the 2008 Caux Forum for Human Security and has since expanded as a network.

Others in the group included Aurelia Annino, co-founder with José Carlos of SiKanda, a non-profit that supports the waste pickers of Oaxaca, Mexico; Rishab Khanna, a member of the Indian Youth Climate Action Network and an active participant in the Caux Trustbuilding in the Global Economy conferences; and Melanie Klein, an environmental studies student from Canada...

While some followed the negotiations, Fabiola was interested in the many side events where she could connect more easily with people. Of particular interest were those running dialogues on how to introduce ethics into the negotiations.

The group spent time with Geoffrey Lean, Britain's longest serving environmental correspondent who has also participated in all the Caux Forums, and sought his advice on how to work strategically. Lean, in an article for the Telegraph, describes the breakthrough agreement that was reached less than a day after the international summit in Cancun hit deadlock. He writes, "Difficult as they were...the talks took place in a more constructive, problem-solving atmosphere than anyone could remember." 

Rishab Khanna comments that climate change is no longer a projection into the future. "It is here, and now. Records indicate that 2010 was the warmest year of the decade...Erratic rainfall, floods, cold waves have set the trend in 2010 and one can only wait and see how 2011 unravels itself."

Reflecting on what she learned, Fabiola asks whether this is an opportunity to deepen our moral foundation and expand our awareness of each other and nature. She sums up her convictions in a commentary saying, "I found myself thinking that we live in extraordinary times. Past generations were not fully aware of the global environmental situation. Future generations might not have time to do anything about it. But at present, if we are willing to go beyond our human tendency to fall into endless scientific and rhetorical debates on issues around climate change and the environment, we can well be on time to meet the challenge." 

 Read the complete story here

Imprints of Reconciliation

Dr. Carl Stauffer

Dr. Carl Stauffer


Dr. Carl Stauffer, the new Academic Director of the Caux Scholars Program, writes a biographical sketch:

It is an honor to be tapped as Academic Director for the Caux Scholars Program. The more I discover about the rich history of CSP, the more I see how my life experience and the collective journey of CSP have followed similar paths of reconciliation.

As a child I grew up amidst war. I was born and raised in Vietnam, the child of church workers. The palpable sights, smells and sounds of violence were always around me: memory "snap-shots" of crawling under the bed with my mother and siblings when the house shook from the shell fire around us; ... seeing a charred, burnt-out tank in the ashes of post-war carnage; and watching as a dead North Vietnamese soldier, in full black garb and feet tied together, was dragged through the streets of Saigon amidst sneers of hatred and cheers of celebration - a "victory" embedded in the desecration of the enemy's dead. In 1975, my family fled Vietnam three weeks before Saigon City fell to the Communist regime, and moved to the Philippines just as the Marcos dictatorship was beginning to crumble. The seeds of reconciliation were deeply planted in my spirit in these early years.

Three years after completing my Social Work degree, I was ordained to ministry in 1988 and joined a team that initiated an urban, inter-racial church and community development program in the inner city of Richmond, Virginia. In 1991, I was appointed the first executive director of the Capital Area Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program (Richmond), which offered a diversionary mediation process within the adult and juvenile justice systems...

Early 1994 brought my family and me to South Africa with the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), a faith-based international relief and development agency, to live and immerse ourselves in peace and reconciliation work in Africa. In South Africa, I was privileged to work with transitional reconstruction processes such as the Peace Accord Structures, Community-Police Forums, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Local Community Development Committees ...

In 2010, I accepted the faculty post at the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding in Virginia. I am married to Dr. Carolyn Stauffer, a sociology professor, and we have two children, Chris and Grace, both in university.


Read the complete story here.

Hope in the Cities Dialogue takes Root at Wright State University

WSU Dialogue Groups
WSU Dialogue Group



Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, has used the Hope in the Cities dialogue curriculum for students, faculty, and staff, for a number of years. Simone G. Polk and Jeffrey Vernooy report on recent developments.


In 2009 we included the Dialogue as a part of Sociology 442 - Race and Minority Relationships. In this course, students study intergroup, racial, and ethnic group relations including the processes and consequences of conflict, prejudice, and discrimination. Students also participated in a Service Learning placement with social service agencies where they were not members of the majority population. They created a DVD that captured their reflections of the Dialogue experience. In it they speak of creating opportunities to understand "the other person's point of view," "breaking the pattern of ignorance," "taking risks" and "acknowledging the similarities and not focusing on difference."

In addition to the original version of the Dialogue, WSU Dialogue Facilitators hosted, "WSU Dialogues for the 21st Century," which added new dimensions to the curriculum. Facilitators engage participants in an open discussion about their "Multicultural Self" as a way to introduce themselves to their dialogue group and build trust and security. We also conduct the "Privilege Walk," followed by discussion; and we introduce materials and discussion on creating a "More Perfect Union" of a multicultural society of people in the U.S. and the world.  We link understanding, awareness, celebration and appreciation of diverse and multicultural people to the future success of students and staff in leadership positions.

Finally, using the "Personal Commitment Card" in Session 6 of the Hope in the Cities curriculum, participants document their personal commitment to "Be the Change..."  and share the commitment with an "Accountability Partner."...

Comments from students included these: "The Dialogue made me more aware of diversity and how I can do things to overcome negative things and feelings." "Some issues surfaced that helped me understand some mixed feelings." "Facilitators challenged us to look at ourselves..."

Wright State University is a partner of the Dayton Dialogue on Race Relations (DDRR). Over the past decade more than three thousand people in the Dayton region have participated in dialogues using the HIC curriculum.

Simone G. Polk is assistant vice president for Student Services and chairs the Education Subcommittee of the University Diversity Advocacy Council at Wright State University. Jeffrey Vernooy is the chair of the University Diversity Advocacy Council.


To read the complete article. 

We Are Family Foundation Honors the Imam and Pastor

Imam and Pastor

Nigerians receiving Award from Dr. Jeni Stepanek (Photo: Krithi Mahalingam, courtesy of WAFF)

Over 600 people filled the room at the Eighth Annual Celebration Gala of the We Are Family Foundation (WAFF) on October 26, 2010. This annual gala is a way for the foundation to honor people who have made a significant contribution to the efforts of peace. The Mattie J.T. Stepanek Peacemaker Award is given in memory of Mattie, the remarkable, young boy whose wisdom and poetry have won the hearts of millions.  Bob Dragotta, who serves on the foundation's board, describes the event:

Among the honorees were Imam Muhammad Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye for their work of peacemaking in Nigeria and other parts of Africa. Dr. Jeni Stepanek, the mother of Mattie, introduced the Imam and the Pastor. "Peace is possible especially in the name of religion," she said, quoting her son. "We must pray differently yet together...Just as God by all names was smiling and is smiling with us and is smiling on these two men who seek and make and bring peace to so many, I can't think of any better recipients than the Pastor and Imam."

I've been involved with WAFF from its inception and became part of the board ... This foundation has done some incredible work, laying seeds of peace with young adults around the globe... I have thought so many times that IofC and WAFF needed to know of each other but I was never able to make the connection. However, God has his own plan about bringing people together

When WAFF asked me to host Imam Ashafa and Pastor Wuye, I did not remember that I had met these men several years ago at a screening of the film The Imam and the Pastor at the UN.

It was therefore such a joy to see Charles and Kathy Aquilina from the Washington IofC office at the gala in Manhattan. As I was greeting them, a limousine pulled up with Imam Ashafa and Pastor Wuye, and Charles introduced me to them. At that moment, it all came flooding back and I realized that God had intervened ...  


Read the complete story here.

Former Caux Scholar Heads up Project for Search For Common Ground
Jeanne Isler

 (Photo: Karen Elliott Greisdorf)

Former Caux Scholar Jeanné Isler recently accepted a position as project director of "Search for Common Ground on Race."

Hope in the Cities was part of the Racial Healing Working Group convened by Search for Common Ground (SFCG) and the Faith and Politics Institute in July of 2009. This gathering brought together diverse stakeholders to build consensus solutions around the question, "What would it take to heal the wounds of racism in the US?" The Working Group was part of an ongoing process to discern, strategize and organize around emergent themes in the area of racial healing.

As follow-up, Jeanné is currently exploring several different opportunities to find the most relevant role SFCG can play in partnership with others in addressing this issue. The most vibrant initiative to date is a joint project with the Faith and Politics Institute entitled Congressional Conversations on Race (CCR). Its mission is to cultivate effective leadership among Members of Congress for racial justice and reconciliation, towards the creation of a more perfect union. It calls for recognition of the historic and spiritual dimensions of our nation's racial wounds and seeks ways to move forward together as a nation, understanding our differences and acting on our commonalities.

Jeanné brings much experience to this project and strong partnership links with Hope in the Cities and Initiatives of Change. After obtaining a M.A. degree in Conflict Resolution from Antioch University Midwest, she was a Caux Scholar in 2006. Since then she has employed her facilitation, mediation, and conflict resolution training skills in independent consulting projects for various organizations, including universities, not-for-profit organizations, and government. Some of her past projects include designing and implementing race dialogues, training on cross-cultural communication skills, and facilitating multi-lingual forums and meetings. Most recently she worked with the US military community to promote an assistance program for service members and their families. 

As Jeanné expresses it, "This position at Search for Common Ground is a wonderful marriage of the skills I have gained through my past experiences and education, and my personal experiences in reflecting on the impact of race in the societal fabric of the United States."


Caux Opportunities for Summer 2011

Caux, Switzerland

Caux, Switzerland


"Caux is a world unto itself. And what a world! A mountain village of breathtaking beauty where one can actually experience in a very real way, the ideal world one dreams about. A world where young and old, black andwhite, Christian, Jew, Hindu and Buddhist, believers and non-believers, liberals and conservatives live and work together, share experiences, hopes and dreams in peace and an atmosphere of incredible trust for a week or a whole summer." So writes Susan Korah from Canada in the 2010 report of the summer conferences at Caux.

The program for the Caux summer conferences 2011 is now available on the web site, and the various conferences have been highlighted in the right column of this newsletter. Of interest to young people are three special opportunities that offer a unique engagement with the Caux experience:

The Caux Scholars Program is an international academic program of applied studies in peacemaking and conflict transformation Preparing a new generation to be trust builders.  The program focus is on the moral and spiritual dimensions of peace building and the relationship between individual transformation and change in the world.  The 2011 course will run from July 3 to 31.

The Caux Artists Program is an interdisciplinary summer course in music, music theatre, dance and the humanities that will challenge artists to explore the ethical and spiritual dimensions of the arts, build bridges across different cultures and faiths in the global community, and create a lively and challenging cultural exchange at the Caux conferences. The program lasts three weeks running from July 18 to August 7.

The Caux Intern Program is an opportunity for young people to experience the full richness of the Caux Conference center, by contributing their service to the conferences and participating in a training program to engage with the needs of the world-thereby developing a deeper sense of where they can contribute. The intern program is divided into two overlapping sessions: June 27 to July 22 and July 17 to August 9. 


For more information and to register, check the website.

For Peace and Reconciliation in Korea

Dr. Syngman Rhee

Dr. Syngman Rhee is the co-chair of the National Committee for Peace in Korea. He has served as president of the National Council of Churches USA (1992-1993) and moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA) (2000-2001).


I was born and raised in Pyongyang, now the capital of North Korea. My father was a Christian minister. By the time of the Korean War in 1950, he had been imprisoned along with other Christian leaders. When I was 19, he was killed. One snowy day, at the urging of our mother, my brother and I escaped to the South, walking for a month through the Korean winter. We never saw our mother again. Coming to the United States, I studied as a Presbyterian minister and worked with Martin Luther King, Jr., in the Civil Rights Movement. This caused me to look at the Korean situation in a new way. When I left home I was full of hostility and enmity; I saw myself as one of the oppressed. I learned that the oppressed have the choice of revenge or forgiving and working for a new beginning. This has led me to make more than thirty visits to North Korea since 1978 in efforts to bring about reconciliation.

It is important to recognize that the Korean War never formally ended. Only a temporary armistice suspended the military hostilities in 1953. Millions of Koreans remain separated from their family members, like my own, due to the continued state of war and division in Korea.

Without a permanent peace treaty, the two Koreas have not agreed on mutual recognition of maritime borders, and they lack formal diplomatic channels that could help prevent the escalation of border clashes, particularly in contested waters off Korea's west coast. Those waters have been troubled ever since 1953, when the U.S. Navy unilaterally imposed a ceasefire line at sea, the Northern Limit Line (NLL), north of the Military Demarcation Line on land. North Korea has long objected to this Northern Limit Line, which is not recognized internationally...

Recurring tragic incidents underscore the frailty of the Armistice Agreement and confirm the urgent need for a permanent peace treaty. We should urge President Obama to stop any further U.S.-ROK joint exercises and to recognize that such war-simulation maneuvers inevitably increase the risk of an uncontrollable escalation that would threaten millions of lives... 

On January 5, the North Korean government along with major political parties and organizations issued a common communiqué to the South Korean government, political parties and civil organizations for "Reconciliation and Cooperation for Peaceful Reunification," hoping for a positive response. It appealed for dialogue and cooperation, expressed willingness to meet South Korea representatives anytime and anywhere to discuss relaxation of tensions, and appealed for a commitment to eliminate damaging actions. Unfortunately, South Korea rejected the proposal.

Recent comments by Stephen W. Bosworth, the special representative for North Korea policy, underscore a shift in the American approach to North Korea, away from two years of what the administration called strategic patience marked by a steadfast refusal to engage with the North. Obama administration envoys central to the stalled six-party talks met with their Chinese counterparts and have expressed optimism that serious talks on North Korea would begin soon.

Direct negotiations, as a first step toward a peace treaty, are the one viable option in a heavily militarized region characterized by recurring naval conflicts, disputed borders, and unresolved grievances. The stakes for peace in Korea are enormous, and the time for a genuine peace process is now.

To read the complete commentary.
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Thank you!
In This Issue
Building Trust Offering Hope in Cancun
Imprints of Reconciliation
HIC Dialogue Takes Root at WSU
We Are Family Foundation
Former Caux Scholar Jeanne Isler
Caux Opportunities for Summer 2011
For Peace and Reconciliation in Korea
Supporting IofC

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Global Update

Global Update 1/11

Global Update reports on the positive response by people of all backgrounds in the US and Canada to the message of hope in the book Trustbuilding by Rob Corcoran.

Colwell DVD

Colwell DVD


Colwell Concert DVD now available! This 95-minute DVD of the concert given by the Colwell Brothers and Herb Allen at Caux, Switzerland, on August 14, 2010 was shot with four cameras and makes you feel like you were there! Order from IofC for only $20. 
Caux Schedule 2011

Conference Schedule

Caux Conferences

July 3-8
Transform yourself - transform the world around you
July 10-17
Caux Forum for Human Security
July 26-31
Learning to Live in a Multicultural World
August 2-8
Trust and Integrity in the global economy
Follow-up Links