Rotary World Peace Scholars Portraits of Peacemakers
  Portraits of Peacemakers
About the program

Nani Mahanta profile

Berkeley student and former governor Sergio Rapu grapples with taking Easter Island into the 21st century

Rotary World Peace Scholars arrive at UC Berkeley on urgent, often personal missions
6 November 2002

By Bonnie Azab Powell, Public Affairs

BERKELEY - Zewdineh Beyene wants to make an early-warning system he is developing for defusing conflict in northeast Africa a model for the entire continent. Australian lawyer Ian Wadley will concentrate on ways to resolve international disputes over resources like fresh water and petroleum. Tenzin Bhuchung, an ethnic Tibetan born in India, intends to address religious repression, education, and unemployment in Tibet through more targeted negotiations with China.

And these are just three of the passionately committed men and women who arrived this fall as UC Berkeley's first class of Rotary World Peace Scholars. Even at Berkeley, these students stand out.

The campus competed with more than 100 universities to be among the seven Rotary Centers for International Studies in Peace and Conflict Resolution. Each center hosts 10 of the 70 students selected by the Rotary Club, an international service organization with hundreds of chapters worldwide. Chosen for their "dedication to promoting world peace and personal experience dealing with conflict situations," the Rotary World Peace scholarships enable recipients to get a two-year master's level degree or certificate in a program emphasizing international relations and peace and conflict resolution; they include fees and living arrangements. Several of the Berkeley students left spouses and children temporarily behind to live in the International House and concentrate on their studies.

"The degree is important, but Rotary's purposes are more about the students' doing research, publishing their findings, and going out and being leaders in the international community," says Nancy Erbe, director of Berkeley's Rotary Center and a lecturer in Peace and Conflict Studies. "What we really hope to do is create an effective network of leaders for peace and conflict resolution around the world."

For a better understanding of who these future leaders are and what they are intent on doing with their lives, we will profile several students in the coming weeks, starting with India's Nani Mahanta.

Group portrait
UC Berkeley's first group of Rotary World Peace Scholars on the steps of International House. Left to right: Patricia Hewitson, Australia; Tenzin Bhuchung, Tibet/India; Simona Pinton, Italy; Michel Huneault, Canada; Nani Mahanta, India; Allison Bond, New Zealand; Ian Wadley, Australia; Nancy Erbe, the program's director; Nagarjun Devaraj, India; Sergio Rapu, Easter Island; and Zewdineh Beyene, Ethiopia. Photo by BAP