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Rotary forum focuses on peace, conflict resolution


Four presenters will share their perspectives and experiences relating to the challenges of resolving international conflict and the effort to bring peace to those and other situations at the 2013 Rotary Peace and Conflict Resolution Symposium at Clackamas Community College on Saturday, Jan. 19, starting at 9 a.m.

Each year, the president of Rotary International names a theme for his/her year of leadership. This Rotary year, President Sakuji Tanaka declared the theme to be “Peace Through Service,” said Gregg Giboney, president of the West Linn Rotary Club.

In response to the theme, the group of clubs within the Southeast Region of Rotary District 5100, Clackamas, Gladstone-Oak Grove, Milwaukie, North Clackamas Sunrise, Oregon City and West Linn, “decided to collaborate and seek to put together a meaningful program on peace and conflict resolution. Along with addressing relevant global and local issues, this symposium also seeks to provide ideas and actions to address such challenges,” Giboney said.

The presidents of the Rotary clubs chose four speakers for the symposium. They are Steven Nakana, Simon Tam, Darren Rieley and Birol A. Yesilada.

“Considerable time was spent seeking speakers with compelling backgrounds and records of service in peace and conflict resolution,” Giboney said. “There was also an emphasis on having speakers covering relevant topics both global and local in nature. Through this process, and with the assistance of vast Rotary contacts, we believe we have put together a strong list of presenters with extensive credentials in their fields of interest. We also believe the presenters will offer ideas and thoughts directly relevant to challenges we face in our communities.”

Nakana is a Ph.D. candidate at the Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland. Here in Portland, he is an adjunct instructor at Portland State University in the conflict resolution department. He is a consultant for Mercy Corps, an international humanitarian organization that works in countries either in and or transitioning from conflict, and is also part of Jubitz foundation initiative on peace building and conflict resolution.

Rieley is a teacher, folklorist, storyteller, poet and father. As the child of two life-long public school teachers and administrators, he has found himself genetically disposed to the pursuit of transformative education for all.

Tam, a Portland resident, is best known as the founder of The Slants, the world’s first and only all-Asian American dance rock band. He has worked with the Department of Defense to coordinate entertainment for active troops serving overseas. He also serves multiple non-profit organizations as a board member, leader and volunteer. His marketing projects and volunteerism have earned several innovation and service awards.

Yesilada is professor of political science and international studies at Portland State University. He is also holder of the endowed chair in Contemporary Turkish Studies in the Mark O. Hatfield School of Government. He came to PSU in September 1998 from the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he was chair of the department of political science.