The Peace and World Concerns Committee (PWCC) is living proof that big things can come in small packages. Despite a small average attendance, the committee has recently become an official member of both Oxfam International and Amnesty International. The group also has plans to host a “Kony 2012” event on April 11 and an Oxfam Hunger Banquet on April 25.
“Even with a small team, there seems to be a lot of campus interest in what we’re doing,” said Dr. Scott Henson.
Henson serves as one of three faculty advisors, alongside Dr. Will Phillips and Dr. Scott Brunger.
In response to multiple requests that the PWCC address the hype and controversy surrounding Invisible Children’s “Kony 2012” viral campaign, the PWCC will screen the 30-minute video in Lawson Auditorium at 6 p.m. on April 11.
After the viewing, a speaker from the University of Tennessee’s chapter of Amnesty International who has traveled to Uganda for mission work will share the group’s views concerning “Kony 2012,” as will Maryville College student Mathiang Gutnyin, a native of Sudan.
On April 25 at 6 p.m., the PWCC will host a fundraising “hunger banquet” for Oxfam International at Southland Books, a local bookstore and café. Guests will draw tickets that randomly assign them to different income levels, as determined by the latest statistics on the number of people living in poverty. Then they will be served dinners according to their given socio-economic statuses.
Both student and faculty members are excited about these upcoming events and hope they inspire others not only to take action on these issues but also to consider joining the committee.
Chase Newman, a student member, appreciates the sense of fulfillment he has gained through his involvement with the PWCC.
“It’s been nice because I feel like I’ve been able to make an impact on people’s lives around the world who I may not have been able to meet, but I know that through my efforts and other members’ efforts that, whether it’s through fundraising or not, we’ve at least been able to make some sort of an impact in improving people’s lives,” Newman said.
The PWCC was established in the early 1900s to support the missionary work of Fred Hope, a popular football player who traveled to Cameroon in 1904. Since then, the PWCC has held annual Heifer Project fundraisers, co-sponsored the Bompata Scholarship Dinner and made annual trips to protest the training program for Latin American dictators at the School of the Americas.
Now, the PWCC is proud to add its Oxfam and Amnesty International memberships to that list of accomplishments.
The PWCC’s unique leadership dynamic also distinguishes it from other campus organizations.
“It’s an interesting committee because it has membership and leadership from both students and faculty,” Henson said. “There are other committees that have students on them, but usually they’re clearly led by one or the other.”
Newman emphasized that any student interested in joining PWCC or who would like the PWCC to take action on a particular issue is welcome to attend the weekly meeting in the Center for Campus Ministry, on Thursdays at 5 p.m.
For now, Henson challenges students to be concerned about international issues.
“I think it’s what you should be doing while you’re in college,” Henson said. “You should be thinking about what other people’s problems are and what the future is going to look like.
“I think there’s a fulfillment in doing that type of work,” he continued. “It gives you an outlet to advocate for things, whether it’s raising money or education or advocacy. There’s that personal side. But then as a group there’s something we can actually do; we can actually make a difference in certain areas and get people involved.”