Drum roll please!

After months of going through the hundreds of entries that came in from youth all over the world, Global Exchange is proud to announce the winners of the 2014 What About Peace contest!


A very special congratulations go to our 2014 Grand Prize winner, 15 year old Ikeora Ebuka from the Imo State of Nigeria, with the written essay about child soldiers called “They Learned to Kill.”

What struck our Grand Prize judge, Global Exchange’s Executive Director, Carleen Pickard, the most about the winning piece was

“the thought and consideration that Ikeora put into the essay; it encourages us all to take action daily in our community to make peace at home.

Ikeora is exactly right in saying, ‘through our intention and actions, we choose the bring positive experiences into our lives and make them for others. We can all do something.’ This essay inspires me to get up and take action right away. And I’ll remember to do something positive tomorrow, and the next day, and the next …”


First Prize Visual Winner, Afshin Valani entitled: The Story of Peace.

In the visual category, the First Prize Winner is a beautiful photo of books by Afshin Valani entitled: The Story of Peace. Judge, Richard Kamler said he liked the formal composition, the way the books stood out in the foreground engaging us in the text – from War and Peace to the Kite Runner. And he especially liked the fact that the books looked like they had been read!

The First Prize Written work is a poem called A Peace Anthem by Mac R. Whaley of Rollingstone, Minnesota. A poem that was called riveting and spirited by the judges who liked the rhythmic approach to answering the question, What about Peace?

Congratulations to our second prize winners too.

In the visual category, we have a piece called Everything Peace from Sophia Diaz of San Diego, CA. Judges were drawn in initially by the complexity of the collage. “When you can’t read a piece of art at first, it draws you in; even the third and fourth times I saw something new. I like the mask quality of shadow and light and the different textures” said Judge Kamler.

Scott Ward’s short story, What About Peace was a neatly constructed comparison of waking up to face the day as a high school student and then as a soldier. “The writing was compelling and original “ said Pam and Michael Rosenthal, the writing judges.

The judges also had some great things to say about the runners up from both categories. Third prize poem, My Name is Peace, by Alexandra Tran of Omaha, Nebraska’s lyrical lines linked peace to a dance through floating dandelions, to a trigger for revolutions.

And third prize visual is Brandon Tran’s exuberant pen and ink drawing of a peace demonstration entitled The Strike, which, according to judges, is so dense and chaotic, just like peace itself. It has a child-like quality without being childish and talks about serious issues without being pretentious.

Check out our website for a listing of all our winners in each category as well a listing of our Honorable Mentions and the recipients of the Jurors Awards.

Congratulations once again to the winners and thank you to all for sharing your beautiful work letting us all know that peace is possible.

Global Exchange staff & founders "then"

Global Exchange staff & founders “then”

In 1988, four friends co-founded Global Exchange to fight a worldview based on greed, domination, and unvarnished worship of power. We envisioned building a robust U.S. movement capable of creating change from the grassroots, powered by people-to-people ties.

Now here we are celebrating our 25th year, sharing visions of peace with thousands of supporters, and revving up for a fresh new batch of What About Peace? art submissions.

With two big anniversaries coming up, there is no better time to get started on your submission for the 2014 What About Peace? contest:

  1. We celebrate International Human Rights Day this month. The UN General Assembly proclaimed 10 December as Human Rights Day in 1950, to bring to the attention ‘of the peoples of the world’ the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  2. December 14th marks the anniversary of the Sandy Hook elementary school shootings and all over the country groups will be marking the day with vigils, marches, and meetings calling for an End to Violence, more sensible gun legislation, and a weeklong “Acts of Kindness” program.  Coat and clothing drives, soup kitchens and “Buddy Benches” for lonely or alienated school kids are possible ways to get involved.

WAPeacedoveNow is the time to think about Peace. Whether you want to think about Peace in your school, on your community’s streets, or in the international arena we want to hear from you. You have just about two months to get your pieces ready!


Peace on Earth Action Kit

Or if you want to share peace this holiday season, you can order a Peace on Earth Holiday Action kit for you or a loved one to inspire more visions of peace.


What About Peace? is calling youth ages 14 – 20 to submit their work; painting, short story, photography, graphic, poetry or essay to  answer the question: ‘What about Peace?’ February 17th is the deadline for submitting your work.

What About PeaceHow is your “What About Peace?” project coming along?  Don’t forget that the deadline for youth aged 14-20 is February 17, 2014  to enter the contest, win prizes (up to $1000) and show the world that you care passionately and creatively about peace on earth.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how we talk about peace–inner peace, cease fires between nations, freedom from violence on our city streets, an end to discrimination and bullying in our schools — and what our individual responsibility is for peace.  It can seem so overwhelming at times and so out of our control. But one thing has been clear over and over again from the works of 14 – 20 year old contest participants, young people want to be empowered to make the world a better place.  Here is a small opportunity to make your voice heard!

Earlier this month the highly regarded human rights organization, Amnesty International made a bold assertion that US officials should face war crimes charges over drone strikes.  They highlighted the case of a grandmother who was killed while she was picking vegetables and other incidents which could have broken international laws designed to protect civilians.

But aren’t we’re mostly just killing the “bad guys”?  No. According to Human Rights Watch, another leading human rights watch dog organization that has studied the missile attacks in Yemen, American airstrikes in Yemen kill more civilians than terrorists.  Their new report  confirms that Hellfire rockets lack selectivity and exterminate women and children more often than they hit Al-Qaeda members,  which the group believes goes against the laws of armed conflict, international human rights law and Barack Obama’s own guidelines on drones.

Wondering what you can do? Learn more, speak up to your friends, in the newspaper and blogs and engage your representatives. We need to create a groundswell of opposition to this.

Fifty organizations and over 75,000 individuals are asking the United Nations Secretary General and the International Criminal Court to declare that drone attacks violate international law — and to ultimately pursue sanctions against nations using, possessing, or manufacturing weaponized drones.

Take-ActionTAKE ACTION! Here’s what you can do:

  • Ask your US Representative and President Obama to support a treaty forbidding the possession, use of weaponized drones and extra-judicial “kill lists”
  • Ask the governments of each of our nations around the world, to ban the use or sale of weaponized drones.
  • Join the over 75,000 people who have signed this Ban Weaponized Drones petition  by adding your name and comments now!
  • Spread the word to youth and teachers who work with youth aged 14-20 about Global Exchange’s What About Peace art contest to inspire our next generation to create peace.

BAD2013smlogoToday is Blog Action Day, the unifying global day of online action when bloggers around the world write about one topic. This year it’s “human rights.”

The United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights Preamble begins,  “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”

Without human rights, there can be no peace. So this Blog Action Day, Global Exchange Director of Organizing Kirsten Moller explores why young people are so important to creating a peaceful world.

Children and adult activists at the Healing Walk in Alberta, Canada, July 2013 Photo Credit: Global Exchange

Children and adult activists at the Healing Walk in Alberta, Canada, July 2013 Photo Credit: Global Exchange

Why are Young People So Important to Creating a Peaceful World? 

Early this summer I spoke to a “20- something” who told me that she couldn’t understand how in the world we used to organize before computers… I laughed and showed her the printing and phone expenses in the budget that were double what they are now and even talked about rubber cement, clip art and the t-squares we used to use to lay out flyers. Everything seemed so much slower but there was so much promise that we could activate to bring peace and justice to this world.

Cliché has it may sound, each older generation inevitably points out, “Ok, look at how we messed up the world, now it’s your turn to make it better” and the younger generation rolls their eyes at how naïve and self righteous the previous generation is — whether it be the “Baby Boomers” or the “Peace and Love” generation of the Viet Nam era.

Global Exchange Reality Tour to Guatemala March 2011 Photo Credit: Global Exchange

Global Exchange Reality Tour to Guatemala, March 2011 Photo Credit: Global Exchange

But here now, I see the tremendous potential of new technology to connect young people from around the world in order to cement those people-to-people ties that are at the root of desire to protect human rights, preserve peace and learn about each other.

We’ve never had greater opportunity to learn about each other — to spend time exploring particularities of different cultures and to care about what is possible. Global Exchange is built on the premise that if we know each other — if we break bread together, share our stories, envision the world we want to live in together and work together across borders we can create peace and preserve human rights around the world.

What About Peace Grand Prize WinnerOur “What About Peace?”contest asks the question of 14 – 20 year olds and challenges them to answer using their creativity in writing poetry, prose, or painting a picture, taking a photo or making a drawing or graphic. We’ve been so inspired by the vision and beauty of the contest answers that pour in every year from all around the world. Poetry from Zambia, a photograph from the Ukraine, a short story from Pakistan and our first prize winner a Manga style drawing in colored pencil from upstate New York.

Young people are particularly important to guaranteeing peace and human rights because of the intensity and energy they bring to the vision of a world where peace is possible. Some look to find peace from within, some mourn the violence and intolerance in their communities and the world and pledge to take action, others are disaffected from the political process and want to build the new society now where they live.

Peace-is-Possible-photoBut it is heartening to see how many young people wear a peace sign t-shirt (or tattoo!) proudly front and center and who fervently work to create a new world with tolerance and respect, free from violence, racism and want.

With the What About Peace? contest we seek to develop and recognize that deep sense of compassion that is at the core of international human rights, being able to feel deeply about injustice against anyone, anywhere in the world – trusting in the power of people and especially young people to be actively involved in shaping the policies of governments  that claim to represent them.


We can all benefit from seeing their answers to that question.

On August 27th in 1928, nations of the world sent representatives to Paris, France to sign a treaty banning war and committing to the peaceful settlement of all disputes. The treaty is still listed as in force on the U.S. State Department website! (open the document, scroll to page 454)

The event is almost forgotten and the treaty has certainly not been honored but more cities are thinking about creating a new holiday to remember the day and a new generation of youth are ready to take up the call to think about peace.

On Wednesday, August 21, a resolution was introduced and voted on by the St. Paul City Council in celebration of the 85th anniversary of the signing and a petition has been set up to urge more cities to recognize the treaty and sign onto the Peace Pact Holiday action. St. Paul is leading the way; but your town can join them and use the What about Peace? contest as a way to mark the celebrations and bring more youth to the table.

Are you a teacher?  Do you work with young people ages 14 -20?  Are you a young creative person yourself?  It’s time to get started. The What About Peace? contest will officially re-open for the 2014 contest on Sept 15th with six categories in visual and written arts and cash prizes.

With seven years of art, poetry and essays from around the world, we’ve decided it is time to expand the visibility of the contest.

Haitian Boy shows his WAP drawingThis summer Global Exchange has hosted an intern to curate a new exhibition of What About Peace art! Mariana, a junior year from Wheelock College in Boston, Massachusetts with double major in Juvenile Justice Youth Advocacy and Political Science/Global Studies as well as a minor in Visual Arts, sorted and organized all of the beautiful What About Peace contributions and curated a show that can be sent for display to schools, community groups and events. Let us know if you’d like to show the work. Email Kirsten (at) GlobalExchange (dot) org.

Our first exhibit will be this weekend at the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco for their first Peace in the Park festival which will bring together the diverse San Francisco and surrounding communities for a rejuvenating day of peaceful activities for all ages and backgrounds.


Scott Graber, an inspired art teacher from Pennsylvania

Scott Graber, an inspired art teacher from Pennsylvania

After our winners were chosen for this year’s “What About Peace” contest, we discovered something very interesting about three of the top winning artists; though they used different styles and mediums, they shared one thing in common – their teacher: Scott Graber of West Lawn,Pennsylvania. 

Contest rules require that all What About Peace? contest participants must have a teacher/sponsor in order to participate in the contest. And this year out of hundreds of entries, our Grand, First, AND Second Prize Visual winners all came from artist teacher Scott Graber’s class (not to mention a substantial number of Honorable Mentions!)

Here are the winning pieces from Mr. Graber’s class:

2013 Grand Prize Winner "Untitled"; Kaitlyn Reber

2013 Grand Prize Winner
“Untitled”; Kaitlyn Reber

2013 First Prize Visual Winner "Untitled"; Tyler Reppert, 17 yrs

2013 First Prize Visual Winner “Untitled”; Tyler Reppert, 17 yrs

WAP2013Cristina Serban Second Prize_0

2013 Second Prize Visual Winner “Untitled”; Cristina Serban, 18 yrs

We wondered how this teacher inspired such thoughtful work and decided to give him a call. 

It turns out Scott Graber has been teaching art for 14 years and has one of the most dedicated and inspiring teaching styles. We asked him what he did to open his students up to the message of peace. Here’s what he did:

He started with a class discussion about peace – from inner peace to world peace and then showed a slide show of the vibrant, anti-war pop culture posters of

A Few of the classic pieces that art teacher Scott Graber shared with his students for inspiration

Peter Max to experience how to make art with a message. They listened to John Lennon’s “Imagine” and listed the emotions, moods, colors and images that came to their minds. The students loved to talk about Peace, Graber reported, exploring conspiracy theories, dream-like utopias and world affairs.

Then he had the students prepare three or more thumbnail sketches of their ideas, keeping to the question: Is my message evident?  They displayed their sketches and the whole class discussed which composition worked best. Then each student chose her or his medium, the size of the piece and got to work.  

As they worked Graber continued to encourage and ask if the students were working to their full potential – reminding them that their name would be on the finished piece and represents them, teaching strategies he learned from the biggest influence in his life – his own high school art teacher.

All in all the process lasted 3 weeks from start to finish, with lots of great conversations about peace and some really creative answers to the question: “What About Peace?”

Inspiration can be passed from teacher to student to the world in more ways than you always know.   Thank you Scott Graber for your inspiration!



“What About Peace?” Grand Judge David Hartsough

Thanks to the careful consideration by our Grand Judge, David Hartsough – We now have winners of the international “What About Peace?” contest!

Get to Know Grand Judge David Hartsough

David Hartsough, the co-founder of the Nonviolent Peaceforce  and the director of Peaceworkers  has dedicated his life to non-violence since the day his father brought him to Montgomery Alabama when he was 15 years old and he got to meet Martin Luther King. He believes, as president Kennedy did, that “ those who make peaceful change impossible, make violent change inevitable”.

When I asked David what message he had for 14- 20 year olds—he said that the most important lesson of his life was that 12 students with some courage and some training in non-violence can change history.

People all over the world are realizing that we don’t have to be victims, that it’s not the people with the guns and the weapons that have the power, we do.  We’ll share more of David’s stories right here on our People to People blog as we showcase some of the beautiful work of this year’s contestant.

David was attending a meeting at Global Exchange when all of the artwork was hung in the conference room and the written pieces laid out for reading pleasure.  He was so inspired by all of the creativity displayed and was honored when we asked him to be our grand judge!

And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for…

The 2013 “What About Peace?” winners are (drum roll please):

GRAND PRIZE: Kaitlyn Reber, 17 years old of  Reading, Pennsylvania

What About Peace Grand Prize Winner

2013 Grand Prize Winner; Untitled; Kaitlyn Reber, 17 years old


  • First Prize Visual:  Tyler Reppert, 17 yrs of Wernersville, Pennsylvania
  • Second Prize Visual: Cristina Serban, 18 yrs of Reading, Pennsylvania
  • Third Prize Visual: “Closure” by Jonathan Xie, 16 yrs of San Francisco, California


  • First Prize Written “Africa, Land of Peace”, Victor Sichangala, 16 yrs of Kabwe, Zambia
  • Second Prize Written Winner “It’s You” Emma Nice, 18 yr  Omaha, Nebraska
  • Third Prize Written Winner “A Jump From the Cycle” Callie Lopshire-Bratt, 18 yrs Walnut Creek, California “So, Yeah, Peace” by Adriane Martinez, 17 yrs Omaha, Nebraska


See All the Winners for Yourself!

On our website: Would you like to read the written pieces and see all the beautiful visual pieces? Both written and visual winners are posted on the What About Peace? 2013 Winners webpage.

On Facebook: If you want to see all the visual winners in one album, check out the What About Peace? Facebook page, which has pictures of all the visual winners including Juror’s Awards and Honorable Mentions. We hope you “like” this page to keep the conversation about peace going.

To all who took part in this years’ contest…beautiful work letting us all know that peace is possible. Congratulations to all of you who participated!

A wall of beautiful art!

Wall of beautiful art!

154 poems
77 essays
30 short stories
77 paintings
66 graphics and
31 photos

It is going to be hard to select the winners of this year’s What About Peace contest  but the jury is hard at work doing just that.

Our jury consists of a book store owner, an author, a published essayist and a blogger, an artist from Cuba, an activist, a portrait painter, a landscape photographer, and muralist all dedicated to giving their full attention to all the work presented to the “What About Peace” contest by young people from around the world.

Pam Totah says " How are we going to choose?'

Pam Totah says “How are we going to choose?”

Every written piece is read by four people; evaluating them for craft and content. All of the visual pieces have been hung in the conference room to be seen by the jury next week.  What are the most compelling messages of peace? What are the most original?

For now, as the room is used for meetings of all sorts, everyone gets to view and enjoy the incredible talent of the 14 -20 year old students who know how they feel about peace.

The winners will be announced on the What About Peace? Facebook page on April 22th, so “like” our page  to see all of the fabulous winners!


Update on 2/18/2013: The call for submissions is now closed. Thanks to ALL who submitted entries. We are overwhelmed by the beauty and thoughtfulness of the pieces. Next, we move on to the most difficult part of this contest; choosing winners from among the hundreds of inspiring entries!

Believe it or not, the entry deadline for the 2013 What About Peace? youth art contest is less than a week away. (Where does the time go?!)

Now in its eighth year, an interesting shift has been happening this year…we’ve been receiving a much higher percentage of international entries than in years’ past. Word has spread globally about this art contest that challenges youth between 14-20 to creatively answer the question: ‘What About Peace?’

In addition to entries from all around the U.S. we’ve received artwork from Nepal, Uganda, Ukraine, and the list goes on!

Worth sharing is this excerpt from a sweet letter we received this week from a What About Peace? teacher sponsor named Olga:

Best wishes from far-away Ukraine! First, let me thank you for giving my pupils an excellent opportunity to express their thoughts about peace creatively. They, like other millions of teenagers, think about peace all over the world and try to share their ideas with others. They are sure “if you draw, if you write, if you take photos- it means you dream about it. And dreams, if they are pure, light, important for everybody, MUST COME TRUE”. You do VERY important thing by involving the youth to dream about peace, because those who dream about it, will NEVER be able to destroy; they will build, create our happy peaceful future.

Wow, thanks Olga for these eloquent words. Peace is certainly universal!

Take-ActionTAKE ACTION! For You Last-Minute Peace-Seekers…

What About Peace? Deadline: All entries must be received to our office by February 15th, 2013. Visit What About Peace? for entry details.

Prizes! Prizes will be given in two categories: written (essay, poem, short story) and visual (painting, collage, photography and graphic).

  • GRAND PRIZE is $1000 in any category
  • First Place –$300 each for the best written entry and $300 for best visual entry
  • Second Place– $150 in each category
  • Sponsor/Teacher’s prizes –$100 for Grand prize and first prize

Want to enter? Visit our information page.

Questions? Contact kirsten@globalexchange.org with questions.

And remember the wise words of Olga, “those who dream about it, will NEVER be able to destroy; they will build, create our happy peaceful future.”



2013 What About Peace? entries

Peace is Universal!

The deadline for this year’s What About Peace? contest is fast approaching and young people from all around the world are heeding the call to share their answers to the question: What About Peace?  We’ve welcomed questions from Colombia, Kenya, Haiti and Vietnam asking if the contest was open to international submissions.

Yes!  Peace is Universal. If you are 14 -20 years old tell us how YOU answer this question in your community.


2013 What About Peace? entries

Write a poem, tell a story, share your opinion in a perfectly crafted essay or try something visual with a photo, painting or graphic.  Your own creativity is the only limitation (that and the age and artwork size guidelines, of course!)

Yes, there are prizes!  Prizes will be given in two categories – written and visual with a grand prize of $1000 for the best over all.

February 15th will be the last day we can accept your submission so don’t wait. Enter today, and/or spread the word!

Our future depends on young people’s commitment to a peaceful world, what is yours?