Breakthroughs Online
January 2012Issue No. 13

As we start 2012, it is prime recruiting time for the Caux Scholars Program, which is a major focus of this issue. Now is the moment to encourage potential scholars to take advantage of this unique opportunity and apply to be part of this year's class!   


This short CSP video from last year gives a wonderful snapshot. 


You will read about Jitka Hromek-Vaitla, who brings her personal experience and style to her role as the new Program Director for Caux Scholars. Two of the articles highlight the ongoing work of Caux Scholars and the reflection on India is from another Caux Scholar, Patrick McNamara.

As a follow-up to The Trust Factor, we report on a panel of distinguished historians who addressed "Healing the Wounds of History: North-South, Black-White" at a special forum in Washington, DC.  

Please follow the links to watch the video message from Aung San Suu Kyi and read the reports from the IofC conference on "Making Democracy Real" in India.    

A New Program Director for the Caux Scholars Program


Jitka Hromek-Vaitla and former director Kathy Aquilia
Jitka Hromek-Vaitla (right) and
former director Kathy Aquilina

Jitka Hromek-Vaitla
 has an interesting name that reflects a history full of stories. Born in Czechoslovakia, she grew up under the communist regime and was 11 when the "Velvet Revolution" ushered in a new era of democracy in 1989. Jitka brings her personal experience to her role as the new Program Director of the Caux Scholars Program. "It is so important for young people from emerging democracies to meet the world at Caux and learn skills that they can apply to post-conflict societies," she says.


Because her uncle was a Catholic Bishop who fled the country in the early 1950s, her family was singled out as possible traitors and discriminated against in schools and jobs. Jitka and her twin brother were the only ones in the village who did not join the young Socialist Pioneers. It was hard on their family to be constantly harassed for not being in line with the regime. "I remember hiding in the basement, everything dark, listening to Radio Free Europe and to mass...the fact that we could not go to church made our faith stronger," she said.


When communism collapsed her first impression was that she did not have to call her teacher "comrade" any more. "We could now publicly go to church, practice our faith and watch the news from countries other than Russia." Vaclav Havel caught the imagination of the people. After democratic elections he became President. "He was the bright star in my eyes," said Jitka. "While communism taught us to use white lies and abuse the system, Havel affirmed truth and moral responsibility."


Jitka received a scholarship to study in California which allowed her to escape the danger of predatory human traffickers. Her friends were not so lucky and remain scarred to this day. This close brush with brutality has given her a passion for abused women around the globe. She is grateful for the doors that opened up for her, leading to completing her MA in International Relations at American University, where she met her husband, Vasu Vaitla, a 1999 Caux Scholar. "IofC had changed his life and gave him a sense of direction."  


Meeting IofC was like meeting a huge international family and Jitka and Vasu often opened their home in New York City to Caux Scholars and other visitors. For Jitka personally, it was time to reflect on her motives: "I thought a job had to be about making more money. IofC was about people, and I thought wow! Impossible! Is it real or sustainable? Yet, I thought it would be fascinating to be part of a world, where life is about more than making money."


With their twin sons nearing school age, Jitka applied to be CSP Program Director. Her goals for the program reflect her background and experience. She would like to promote the power of scholars to connect and learn from each other: "I want Caux Scholars to realize the amazing benefit of their network. They gain so much from each other."


"Please encourage young professionals and students between the ages of 21 and 35 to explore this opportunity," Jitka says. She is looking for the first Caux Scholar from Tunisia. "Their Arab Spring has some similarities to the Velvet Revolution, and my heart reaches out to them. CSP can help them find guidance about their next steps."


Read the complete story here.
Finding Ways to Share the World's Resources

IofC Booth at Durban Conference
IofC Booth at Durban Conference
Jennifer Helgeson is an American currently working as a researcher at the London School of Economics Grantham Centre for Climate Change and is co-director of the Environment & Economy group - part of IofC's Caux Forum for Human Security. She reports on her time in Durban:

During the recent UN Conference on Climate Change (COP 17) in Durban, South Africa, IofC was admitted as an official observer organization. Six young IofC members, including myself and two former Caux Scholars, attended as representatives of the Environment and Economy Group of the Caux Forum for Human Security.

Despite two long weeks during which prospects for an agreement seemed very uncertain, the COP turned out to be a milestone in the fight against climate change. The 2015 timeline for a global agreement gives increased significance to IofC's continued work on the relationship between climate change and human security.

IofC expanded its presence considerably with an official side event on the topic of "Climate Change, Violent Conflict and Human Security" (Read a report of the event) and its own exhibit booth, providing information about IofC, the Caux Forum for Human Security and the Restoring Earth's Degraded Land (REDL) program. The booth was also visited by Luc Gnacadja, executive secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, who has attended the Caux Forum and supported REDL from its inception.

IofC has had a presence at the UN Climate Change Convention negotiations since the Copenhagen COP in 2009. As many will recall, the outcomes of that conference fell terribly short of the expectations. In Durban the enthusiasm of Copenhagen was absent and expectations were lower, but rather than disengage, we realised the power of our own actions and saw that with or without any major agreement at the international level, our work with IofC provides a conduit towards a more sustainable world.

Cooperation takes time, regardless of the immediacy of the problems. Too often climate change negotiations have been characterized by mistrust and blame. Building trust, ending the blame game and finding ways to share the world's resources more effectively is simply not a quick or easy task.

Read the complete story here. 

Listening to Voices from the Grassroots  

Laymah Gbowee
Laymah Gbowee with Barry Hart
(Photo: Jon Styer (EMU))

Amy Potter Czajkowski, Caux Scholar ('97) and former program director at Easter Mennonite University (EMU), writes about the visit of Nobel Peace Prize winner Laymah Gbowee to the EMU campus and her participation in a symposium about societies in transition: 


I had the privilege of speaking at a symposium on "Societies in Transition: from Instability to Peace" at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU). It was during the weekend honoring Laymah Gbowee as a recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize along with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and women's rights activist Tawakkul Karman of Yemen.

Laymah, a graduate of the master's program at EMU's Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP), was already scheduled to be recognized as alumna of the year. The symposium highlighted the work of CJP faculty and alumni who work in transitional societies.

Every panelist was connected with the Caux Scholars Program (CSP). The speakers were Carl Stauffer, CSP academic director; Lisa Schirch, former faculty; Laymah Gbowee, long-time friend and colleague of Sam Doe, CSP faculty; and I, a '97 graduate of the program. Barry Hart, the former CSP academic director, organized and moderated the panel.

Laymah told how she led a group of women in demonstartions for peace and an end to Liberia's Civil War through WIPNET- the women-focused arm of the West African Network for Peacebuilding (co-founded by Sam Doe). The movement finally forced the men in leadership to sign a peace agreement in 2003. The women participated at great personal risk but could no longer tolerate the realities of war.

Creating opportunities for grassroots people to have voice and participate in meeting their own needs became the theme of the symposium. Carl Stauffer spoke about the Truth and Reconciliation process in South Africa. It allowed people to wrestle with the issues of acknowledgement, apology, and forgiveness. Stauffer described his involvement in supporting the TRC as "accompanying" individuals through the process.

I spoke about Fambul Tok, a program in Sierra Leone that began in 2008 to deal with issues related to the 11-year civil war. This reconciliation process has led to strengthening communities through individual healing, mending relationships, and renewed cooperation. The strengths of the program are its roots in cultural traditions and the degree to which ordinary people are able to create and participate in their own reconciliation process.

Lisa Schirch, founder of 3P Human Security, (Partners for Peacebuilding Policy), recounted her work to support peace in Afghanistan and be a conduit for the voices in Afghan civil society. 


Each speaker described processes that form a central value of the Caux Scholars Program and EMU's Justice and Peacebuilding program: the inclusion of voices of the people most impacted by the violence. The cross-fertilization of these programs strengthens the theories and supports the practice of peacebuilding.   


Read the complete story here.  

Building a Healthy Democracy Requires Healing History's Wounds    

Civil War Panel
Eleanor Holmes Norton contributes to the panel (Photo: Karen Elliott Greisdorf)
Distinguished historians spoke on "Healing the Wounds of History: North-South, Black-White" at a special forum in Washington, DC, on December 12. "We want to explore how the wounds of history are playing into the political polarization, " said former diplomat Joseph Montville, the moderator, noting that "resentment is very much alive in Congress today."

David Blight of Yale University, Edward Ayers, president of the  University of Richmond, and Frank Smith, the founding director of the African American Civil War Memorial and Museum in Washington, DC, spoke in the context of the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War. They were joined by Donald Shriver, president emeritus of Union Theological Seminary in New York, and Eleanor Holmes Norton, the US Representative for the District of Columbia. The forum was sponsored by the Conflict Prevention and Resolution Forum at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced international Studies.

David Blight said that "healing and justice" were needed after the Civil War, but reconciliation between North and South was achieved with the "re-subjugation of those who had been enslaved." The defeated South justified the cause of the Confederacy and promoted the "lost cause tradition." This was matched by the North's belief in its righteousness in saving the Union and ending slavery and the bolstering of Yankee pride.  "We think in myths, we live in myths. Myths are the great stories we want to believe, the narratives that explain our present," he said.

Edward Ayers asserted, "reconciliation will have to be built by hand and conversations one by one. Richmond is at the center of this history...If the nation is to be healed it needs places like Richmond as well as Washington, Baltimore and New York to take responsibility for our history."  

"This is not just the 150th anniversary of the war but it marks the end of perpetual bondage of four million people. We have to talk about how these two things are related...People are hungry to talk about this in constructive ways," Ayers concluded.

Panelists emphasized that historical documents in southern states show conclusively that they fought to maintain slavery. Slavery was so central to the economy that it "could not end without a war," said Frank Smith. Large numbers of slaves freed themselves and joined the Union army. The museum lists the names of 209,145 African American soldiers and their white officers.

Don Shriver, responding to the panel, said he wished America's public rhetoric "matched better the historical record." He suggested several criteria that might help bring respect, repentance and a new ability to combine pride and shame. "If more Americans could say that slavery was a national institution it would be liberating for a lot of people."

Eleanor Holmes Norton said, "Healing from a civil war is gradual. The enemy does not go away; he is one of you." Healing only began with the passage of civil rights legislation. "Attitudes could not have changed without the civil rights laws. Nothing could have promoted healing without that."

In a helpful reminder about the topic's relevance in today's heated political climate Donald Shriver concluded, "A healthy democratic culture is one where people listen to each other's stories and bear those stories in mind when they go to the polls."  

The forum was co-sponsored by The American Civil War Center in Richmond; The John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation in Tulsa; and the African American Civil War Memorial and Museum in Washington, DC.  


Read the complete story here.  

What we can Learn from India

Patrick McNamara
Patrick McNamara
Patrick McNamara, a former Caux Scholar, is a University of Nebraska at Omaha International Studies Research Associate and Vice Chairman, IofC - USA Board of Directors.

I recently returned from serving as a 2011 Fulbright-Nehru Senior Scholar in India. I left my job after six years at the Omaha Community Foundation and this turned out to be a life-changing opportunity to grow personally, professionally and spiritually.

With the Fulbright Scholarship my main program included (1) teaching social entrepreneurship; (2) doing a case study of conflict resolution of water disputes, then guest lecturing at the  International Water Management Institute in Sri Lanka; and (3) helping to strengthen the community foundation movement in partnership with the Sampradaan Indian Centre for Philanthropy.

My family was with me for the first two months. Experiencing the overwhelming sensory overload that is India through the eyes of my daughters, who had never before seen such heights of opulence displayed next to such depths of destitution, was an awesome adventure for us all.

Initiatives of Change in India
We had a number of opportunities to meet with people engaged with Initiatives of Change in India. (Read more about this in my blog) One of the most memorable was visiting Asia Plateau, the IofC Centre in Panchgani. The Indian team uses this inspiring place for training some of the country's top business leaders and public officials.

R.D. Mathur is a longtime leader of the IofC movement and is the moral force behind the IC Centre for Governance through which top-level retirees from the Indian Administrative Service educate and train junior officers and others in anti-corruption, ethics and good governance.

McNamara Family
McNamara Family at the Taj Mahal 
My family had the honor of hosting the past president of IofC International, Rajmohan Gandhi, and his wife Usha in our apartment in Delhi. When I told friends and colleagues that we had the Mahatma's grandson in our home, they were dumbfounded.

Civil Society in Action
Activist Anna Hazare mobilized millions on the issue of anti-corruption. He has taken that fight to the corridors of power and challenged the government at the highest level. It was an amazing display of charisma, inspiration and, ultimately, power to persuade others. The movement energized people because all lives seem touched by this issue of corruption.

I was there when Hazare broke his fast after 13 days. The crowd cheered, Indian flags waved, and "victory of the people" was declared. Parliament had passed a declaration that they would accept the conditions of the Lokpal, an ombuds office to investigate official corruption, which Team Anna had made.

India is seen throughout the world as a model of democracy. For all the challenges of governing a vast and diverse population, it has succeeded in so many ways. I believe this latest people's movement against corruption will challenge other democracies to look at the power of their people to participate in governance.

When a Star News reporter at Ramlila asked me what I thought of the gathering, I answered, "This is democracy in action. I think that Americans should learn from India - the world's biggest democracy - about how civil society can play a role in social change. This is an amazing people's movement."

My time in India gave me an opportunity to step back from my busy life and look deeply at my own heart and consider where God is at work in the world and how I am called to be a partner in that work.

Read the full commentary here
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Thank you!
In This Issue
A New Program Director for the Caux Scholars Program
Finding Ways to Share the World's Resources
Listening to Voices from the Grassroots
Building a Healthy Democracy Requires Healing History's Wounds
What we can Learn from India
Consider a Gift to Initiatives of Change
Sixty percent of our support comes from people just like you! No gift is too large or too small.   
Making Democracy Real
A five-day dialogue at
Asia Plateau, India

Watch the video message from Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi

 Read further reports   

2012 Caux Conferences

July 1-6: 
July 8-15: 
July 17-23: 
July 25-31: 
August 2-8: 

2012-01 Global Update  

Read the latest Global Update 

In this issue is a message from
Dr. Omnia Marzouk, the new president of IofC International.

 Held to Account 

Chris Breitenberg Photo

Chris Breitenberg welcomes the intense personal scrutiny of candidates in the Republican Primaries and says that we could all benefit from the scrutiny of others to help keep us accountable.  

 Read more  

 Hope in the Cities

is awarded a
Kellogg grant


The W.K. Kellogg Foundation announced a $75,000 grant to support a project on "Race, Freedom and Justice," exploring aspects of the Civil War with emphasis on emancipation, racial equity, and healing. This project  aims to position Richmond as a "national center for community trustbuilding."  

Read more  

Trustbuilding Book Cover


Read author  

Rob Corcoran's latest blog,

Undivided Lives, Undivided Communities
 Blogger logo 

The Imam & The Pastor 

"The African model for finding peace amid the continent's warring communities"  

The Times (London)  

AAA flyer image An African Answer 

The second film about

the work of these two  

African peacemakers. 

Order the 2 DVD Packaged set 
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