Personal Stories from the Frontlines of War and Peace

From Iraq to Burma, from Peru to Yemen, from Nicaragua to Nepal, the personal stories of widows, children, workers, and soldiers often are lost in the cacophony of war.  The U.S. Institute of Peace hosted a discussion and launch of "Speaking Their Peace: Personal Stories from the Frontlines of War and Peace," a book that tells the extraordinary stories of "ordinary" people from eleven conflict zones. This event included a moderated discussion with the book's author, Colette Rausch, and two members of the team that captured these memorable interviews, followed by a reception and book-signing session.

Pictured from left to right, Viola Gienger, Colette Rausch, Najla Elmangoush, Khitam Al-Khaghani

With a foreword by the Dalai Lama, the book collects interviews with 80 ordinary citizens – a taxi driver, a nun, a machinery worker, a mother -- from conflict zones all over the world. Their accounts illuminate the intensely personal experience of war, the uncertain transition to peace, and the aspirations that survive despite it all.

USIP's Viola Gienger moderated a discussion with Rausch, the acting vice president for Governance, Law and Society at USIP, and Najla Elmangoush and Khitam Al-Khaghani, who have lived and worked in conflict zones and were a part of the team that conducted interviews. A photo exhibit featured images taken during Rausch’s travels and her meetings with interviewees.

Audience members had the opportunity to record their own 30-second messages of what peace means to them for a "Speak Your Peace" video. Learn more about "Speaking Their Peace" and read excerpts from the book. You can continue the conversation on Twitter with #SpeakPeace.

  • Colette Rausch
    Author of Speaking Their Peace
    Acting Vice President for Governance, Law & Society, USIP
  • Khitam Al-Khaghani
    Program Officer
    Governance, Law & Society, USIP
  • Najla Elmangoush
    Professor of Law, Civil Society Activist
    Practitioner of Restorative Justice
  • Viola Gienger, Moderator
    Senior Writer, USIP
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