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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Brandeis alumni document Costa Rican peace culture

Published: September 23, 2010
Section: Front Page

PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot

Brandeis alumni Jonah Cohen ’10, Alex Epps ’10 and Ned Crowley ’10 screened their documentary film campus on Tuesday.

“State of Peace” was filmed this past summer in Costa Rica after Crowley and Cohen were awarded a $10,000 grant from the Kathryn W. Davis Projects For Peace.

Costa Rica has had universal health care and no standing army since 1948; it was also voted the happiest country in the world. But like any other country, Costa Ricans are confronted with problems of violence, according to the documentary.

Because the country does not have the money to control the regulation of such things as drug trafficking, many citizens have decided to make a difference by advocating peace.

“State of Peace” follows the peace movements throughout Costa Rica, primarily in schools. Rather than trying to end the country’s violence with more violence, Costa Ricans are educating their citizens about peace. Through funding given by the Rasur Foundation, peace education has made its way into the local schools. With peace education, children can practice peace with the goal of spreading it to other generations.

After nearly three years of litigation, the country’s president, Oscar Arias, signed the Peace Education Law on Sept. 15, 2009, a large step towards teaching all Costa Ricans peace education.

PHOTO BY Haley Fine/The Hoot

However, children aren’t the only ones receiving it. In the Academy for Peace, teachers are also being trained on how to teach peace. Through the two-part method of coherence and connection, adults are also learning how they can make a difference through peace education. So far, 600 teachers have been trained in at least 17 different schools.

Cohen, Epps and Crowley portrayed Costa Rica as a country full of peaceful yet proactive people, eager to make a lasting change in their society.

One teacher noted, “I wish peace was a fundamental subject.”

Last year, only two Brandeis student projects were selected to receive the award. The other student, Shaina Gilbet ’10, traveled to Haiti to document Empowering Through Education (ETE), a summer camp that she founded herself.