Arts and culture can become powerful media for bolstering peacebuilding efforts and steering individuals towards nonviolent expression. USIP hosted on July 16, 2015 a special photography display and panel discussion spotlighting the faces and stories of peacebuilders around the world. The event was part of a series in 2014 and 2015 marking the Institute’s 30th Anniversary.
Like many forms of art, photography provides an important means of capturing and sharing the stories of peacebuilders who are striving to end violent conflict in various settings.
Ambassador Cynthia Schneider, a distinguished professor at Georgetown University who specializes in cultural diplomacy, especially in relations with the Muslim world, moderated a discussion with peacebuilders and photographers Leon Shahabian, Manue León and Colette Rausch. They discussed the role of the individual in building peace, and the value of visuals in sharing those stories.
Shahabian’s Layalina Productions creates award-winning films and television series aimed at bridging the divide between the Arab world and the United States through people-to-people diplomacy and captivating storytelling. Rausch serves as an acting vice president at USIP and is the author of Speaking Their Peace, a collection of personal stories from the frontlines of war and peace. Each displayed photographs from the field to lend color and context to their findings. León is the Visual Communication Designer with USIP's Global Campus and is devoted to the enhancing communication through different mediums, such as paintings, advertising, film, documentaries and interactive design. His artwork aimed at preserving and sharing his Mayan heritage was also available for public viewing.