Rotary Peace Fellows from the Class XV & XVI cohorts are currently pursuing their MA degrees in either Peace Studies or International Relations at ICU. Their bios below provide a small taste of their diverse work backgrounds and research interests.
CLASS XVI (2017-2019)
Dilton Ribeiro (Peace Studies) holds a Bachelor of Laws from the State University of Southwest Bahia (Brazil), a Master of Laws from the University of Manitoba (Canada) and a Ph.D. in Law from Queen’s University (Canada). In Brazil, he joined human rights projects focused on gender issues and worked as a human rights lawyer. In Canada, Dilton joined different human rights organizations such as the Canadian Lawyers for International Human Rights Law. In 2012, he started a music project that sought to foster understanding and friendship between different cultures through music. Formed by members from different countries, the main purpose was to seek to show that music can convey universal feelings and work as an important tool to mutual understanding and cooperation. Dilton also worked as a research assistant to many professors in different cutting edge human rights projects including indigenous rights, immigration and refugee law, and gender inequality. He has also published articles on indigenous rights, international human rights law theory and on comparative law. He has also worked as a teaching fellow at Queen’s University and presented twice at the Canadian Council for International Law. His current research interest focuses on seeking to understand the relationship between pop culture, obscenity and human rights.
Elisabeth Oliveira da Costa (Peace Studies) holds a Master in Human Rights and Democratization from the University of Padova (European Inter-University Center for Human Rights and Democratization), Italy, as well as a Law Degree from the University of Coimbra, Portugal. Before becoming a Rotary Peace Fellow, she worked for almost 20 years. Most of her career has been with the United Nations – the organization she dreamed to join from an early age, when she fundraised for UNICEF house to house in her small village. Elisabeth’s expertise is on human rights and refugees. She has worked on human rights investigations (including with International Commissions of Inquiry on Syria and Timor-Leste), designed and implemented peacebuilding projects and capacity-building programmes, supported engagement with various UN mechanisms and done advocacy on a broad range of issues. She has lived in Central Asia (Kyrgyzstan), Africa (Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea) and the Balkans (Bosnia and Herzegovina), as well as in Geneva and New York. She feels incredibly grateful for the opportunity that the Rotary Peace Fellowship is giving her to go back to University to “digest” the various experiences she has had and contribute to advance collective knowledge in her field. Elisabeth will be focusing her studies on the interplay between peacebuilding and human rights.
Janaka Ranaraja (Peace Studies) graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Defence Studies from General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University and Masters of Science in Military Studies from Kelaniya University in Sri Lanka. He is a Commissioned Officer in Sri Lanka Army. He was a lecturer at General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University and Institute of Peace Support Operations, Sri Lanka. His academic areas of interest are: International Relations, Strategic Studies, International Humanitarian Law, Humanitarian Law, Leadership and Competency Training. His research interests include Peace Studies, post conflict and reconciliation, Nation building and youth development.
Javid Ahmadi (Peace Studies) holds a Masters degree in International Human Rights Law (LLM) from the Leicester De Montfort University, UK and has 7 years experience in areas of conflict management, program management and peace building including working with the United Nations (UN) Peacekeeping Operation in South Sudan as Information Analyst with major responsibility of analyzing and reporting Security, Human Rights, Humanitarian and Political Issues related to the South Sudan. He has also worked in multi-ethnic environments at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Indonesia, Malaysia, Nauru and Papua New Guinea. In his working years, he was actively building relationships and partnerships with donor countries, local governments, national and international NGOs for the interest of beneficiaries that were mainly asylum seekers, refugees and internally displaced persons. In addition to his education and work experience, he has extensive knowledge of African and Middle Eastern politics, history and culture; and speaks fluently several languages including Farsi, Pashto, Urdu and he is familiar with Arabic, Japanese and Indonesian languages. His research interest is the use of surveillance drones in the Department of Peace Keeping Operations (DPKO) to protect civilians and prevent future conflicts.
Kalika Kastein (Peace Studies) earned her Master of Science in Education from Johns Hopkins University. As a certified teacher in the state of Hawaii (U.S.A.) in both Elementary Education and Special Education, she has been teaching and working in educational organizations working towards peace and equity for over five years. Her roles have been diverse, from classroom teacher to school bus driver, to Peace Corps volunteer and Teach for America Corps Member. She has lived and worked in South Korea, Cameroon, India, and Micronesia. In addition to her passion for education, her interests include topics related to her undergraduate degree in the fields of Graphic Design and Philosophy/Theology, as well as peace within the Korean peninsula, and education and cooperation within the continent of Antarctica. Her research focuses on the impact of placing teachers hired from a majority on tight-knit or culturally rich educational communities.
Lorena Rodríguez Peña (Peace Studies) studied Government and International Relations at Universidad Externado de Colombia. In 2012 she co-founded Colectivo Talanquera which is dedicated to being an intercultural link between indigenous communities and contemporary society in her home country of Colombia. The organization fosters abilities and skills for social development based on ancestral wisdom, where Lorena continues to serve as director of projects. In 2014 she took her first international position as an intern in the Colombian Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand. And then, worked for two years for the Colombian High Commissioner for Peace as a researcher on the Colombian peace dialogues. Since then she has been supporting creative, local projects for peace in post conflict scenarios in Colombia, focused on the protection of territory rights, reconciliation, and forgiveness. As part of the Colombia Conexion-SF Bay team, Lorena works from abroad to support social justice processes in rural and peasant communities in Colombia, by creating awareness of human rights violations, and aiding social leaders threatened by paramilitary groups.
Natasha Venables (Peace Studies) was awarded a Rotary Peace Fellowship after 5 years at the Australian Red Cross. A global citizen at heart, her interests in peace studies and the plight of displaced people began when her own family had to leave their home during farm invasions in Zimbabwe leading her to question the role of nationhood, race, and food security in maintaining peace. Natasha is experienced in disaster management, food security, health awareness and livelihood programs, community gardening and supporting asylum seekers. Her work in Vanuatu during Tropical Cyclone Pam supported the response and recovery as Food Security and Livelihoods Advisor with CARE International. Through managing a social education project for the Australian Red Cross Migration Support program, she helped inspire humanitarian action and greater social cohesion in Australian communities through a focus on human rights, volunteering, and a sense of shared humanity. Natasha completed a BA in Sustainable Development and BA in Commerce from Murdoch University in Perth. Her research interests are how community gardens can support displaced people to increase self-efficacy and self- reliance while simultaneously building peace through social cohesion with host populations and fostering a spirit of community and volunteerism.
Saloni Lakhia (Peace Studies) holds a B.A. in Law and a Masters in Clinical Psychology. She has expertise in working for women survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and acid attacks. She has collaborated with multiple government agencies for the same and has authored a handbook on legal provisions for women safety and security for the state government. She worked as a research assistant for the Chairperson of Maharashtra State Commission for Women before being awarded the Rotary Peace Fellowship. Since her adolescence, she has been involved in multiple volunteer programs and has recorded academic books for the National Association for the Blind. She has headed multiple local women committees in urban and rural Maharashtra and contributed to the National Policy on Women. Her research interests focus on public policy, development and the intersection of government services with implementation imperatives.
Pierre Beyai (Peace Studies) holds a B.A in English Language and Development Studies from the University of The Gambia. He is as a Captain in The Gambia Armed Forces and participated in UN peacekeeping operations in Sudan, Darfur (2008-09) as Platoon Commander and in Mali (2013-14) as a staff officer. As such, he has witnessed the carnage of war among communities and tribes. For his thesis, he is interested in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Rwanda and how it brought about lasting peace among former warring tribes or communities.
CLASS XV (2016-2018)
Alexandra Plummer (Peace Studies) holds a B.A in English Literature and Comparative Media from the University of Leeds, UK. Her thesis focused on the media’s use of fear, post 9/11. After Graduation, trained in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) she moved to South Korea to teach English. She went on to use her experience and love of education and community development to work with various NGOs in Southeast Asia focused on education, social and economic change. Alex worked with NGO’s in Myanmar, Thailand and most recently, Siem Reap, Cambodia where she was Managing Director for an international organization working on social and economic opportunity, at the local level. Her research interests focus on the complexities of participation and empowerment projects with a keen desire to explore the role of sustainable development in the peace-building process. Other interests include yoga, meditation and the role of art in society.
d’Arcy Lunn (Peace Studies) completed his B.Ed 15 years ago in Australia and has since experienced more than 85 countries around the world working in education, development, health promotion and communications. He is often a keynote speaker on global citizenship education through his concept of Teaspoons of Change and regularly worked with UNICEF on social mobilisation for polio eradication. For his Masters he hopes to look at the thoughts, attributes and actions, on a personal level, that have a positive impact on peace promotion and peace-making and how that fits and contributes to the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, in particular Global Goal #16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.
Francis Rothery (Peace Studies) graduated with a BA (Hons) in Religious Studies and Psychology and a Bachelor of Philosophy (Hons) in Social Work in the UK. He then held posts in Social Work in the Royal Navy and in Management providing counseling to problem drinkers. He has also worked for an educational charity providing leadership training in Russia, Africa and Pakistan and as Psychological Therapist (NHS) and Lecturer in Psychology, Philosophy and Religious Studies. Further PG work led him to study Postmodern Spirituality and Political Theology and author his book “Missional: Impossible! the death of institutional Christianity and the rebirth of G-d’. His research interest is in inter-spirituality and the emerging political space in post secular cities such as New York and Paris.
Joseph Smith (Peace Studies/International Relations) earned a Bsc Honors in Peace and Conflict Resolution from Fourah Bay College University of Sierra Leone (USL), with a strong background in International Humanitarian Law and complex emergencies. He is interested in the prudent management of natural resources in Africa specifically the Mano River Basin West Africa. His research focus is Building Peace through adding value to what is called Neglected Development Minerals (granites, sands, and clay). Joseph has professionally worked with international organizations such as the German International Cooperation (GIZ) Action Aid International (Volunteer) and Independent Social Performance (West Africa Coordinator) on issues of Community Development Agreement (CDA) for mining host communities, land grabbing and Women’s Rights, Cooperate social performance and Cooperate-community relationship respectively.
Lorne Anderson (Peace Studies) having worked as a Chaplain in both high school and university settings he feels that helping individuals find peace is an important first step to building peaceful communities. While working as a chaplain he completed an undergraduate course in Psychology and Criminology majoring in Youth Deviance in order to find ways to compliment faith with science on learning and behavior. For many years his efforts were focused on encouraging students to develop self-confidence, overcome their challenges, celebrate diversity, and find ways to serve and encourage the communities in which they live and grow. It was an honor to walk with young people on their faith journeys and consider ways to help and encourage them to pursue their passions. He strongly believes that investing in the younger generations today will help create stronger communities in the future. Further to his chaplaincy work he entered the world of interfaith work through the Faiths Act Fellowship that was run by the Tony Blair Faith Foundation. He spent a year working with a passionate Muslim humans rights activist in a Jewish humanitarian organisation. Their different religious identities were not sources of divide but instead turned out to be the greatest asset we had to inspire one another. As they continue to feel the effects of globalization he thinks that it is important that faith communities lead the way in building relationships across divides and loving deeply as they are encouraged to do. He is here in Tokyo completing the Rotary Peace Fellowship at the International Christian University to build on his faith and interfaith passions and consider how he can be a greater asset in church, chaplaincy and other community related contexts. He is looking forward to discover how the richness of the classes, learning from the Japanese people here in Japan, and sharing in the diversity of passion and experience from my fellow Fellows can encourage me in my next steps.
Louis Mendy (Peace Studies) – holds a BA in Development Studies with a Minor in Sociology from the University of The Gambia (Class 2005). He has been working for The Gambia Immigration Service for almost Two decades. Louis has held various positions and responsibilities in The Gambia Immigration service and spent close to five years in International Peacekeeping missions with African Union Mission in Sudan-Darfur Region (AMIS 2006-2007), United Nations and African Union hybrid Mission in Darfur (UNAMID 2010-2012) and United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL 2014-2016). He possesses a comprehensive knowledge in Security Sector Reforms and Management and a wealth of experience in peace support operations in Africa. His research and academic interest is in Refugee Protection issues, Immigration and Border Security Management.
Magdalena Zurita (Peace Studies) holds a B.A. in Political Sciences from the Catholic University of Argentina. She worked in the Government of the Province of Buenos Aires, where she served as an advisor, coordinator and Director of employment programs and projects. She also worked as; an Assistant Professor at her alma matter, a consultant for a UNDP project and as a Coordinator of the Community Relations Department in the International NGO Messenger of Peace based in Argentina. Since she was an adolescent, she has volunteered with projects focused on poverty reduction and is currently collaborating with a social project carried out in the slums of Buenos Aires City. She has also participated in postgraduate courses focused on governance, political management and youth employment organized in Brazil, Mexico and Argentina by San Andres University, the Latin America Development Bank – CAF and the ILO. Her research interests focus on poverty reduction and the impact of current poverty reduction approaches.
Moin Md. Uddin (Peace Studies), former UN Peacekeeper, worked in United Nations Peacekeeping Operations in Ivory Coast from 2008 to 2013. He also worked with research and consultancy organizations later on in order to promote the forward market aiming at improving the value chain actors’ role in the vegetable and fish sectors of Bangladesh. During his student life, he was involved in several volunteer organizations to work for developing latent talent of youth and children, spreading the literature of knowledge. He was also a volunteer organizer in BRAC social forum and Marketing Association in his university life. He also shows utmost interest in culture and language in other respects learning a couple of languages like French, Spanish, and Chinese. He holds masters in development studies from BRAC University, Bangladesh. His research interests focus in peace and development that apprise the present socio political issues in domestic and global periphery.