20th Westheimer Peace Symposium to Look at 'Blueprint for Justice'

Social Justice Is Topic of Annual 'Peace Summit'

September 21, 2010

This year’s milestone edition of the Westheimer Peace Symposium at Wilmington College Oct. 20 will delve into social justice for those living on the margins of society.

The 20th annual daylong “peace summit” will speak to this issue regarding persons as close as Cincinnati and as distant as Haiti and India. The theme is “Blueprint for Justice: Breaking Bondage, Building Lives.”

Presenters will include Jean-Robert Cadet, “Hope for Haiti,” 10 a.m.; a panel speaking on “Changes from Within: Over-the-Rhine Community Housing,” 1:15 p.m.; the Wilmington College Chorale, “How Can We Keep from Singing?” 2:45 p.m.; and Zana Briski, “Born into Brothels,” 7:30 p.m.

All presentations will be held in the Hugh G. Heiland Theatre in WC’s Oscar F. Boyd Cultural Arts Center. The symposium is free of charge.

Jean-Robert Cadet tells his story in the autobiographical book, Restavec: From Haitian Slave Child to Middle Class American. He is the founder of the Jean R. Cadet Restavek Organization ( and shares his powerful story of growing up in Haiti as a child slave and how he used that experience to change the lives of others for the better.

His talk will focus on poverty in Haiti, the devastating Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake and its aftermath, and the role of non-governmental organizations.

Cadet’s book is being used as the common reading for WC’s freshmen this year and The Center for Service and Civic Engagement is coordinating a variety of service projects related to this topic.

A panel of individuals who work with three different Over-the-Rhine Community Housing programs will share how each program empowers community members to change their world.

The panel will feature Thomas A. Dutton, director of Miami University Center for Community Engagement in Over-the-Rhine; Gregg Pieples, program manager at Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services; and Mike Rogers, manager of Choices Café.

In recent years, the College Chorale has become an integral part of the symposium, as director Catherine Roma, professor of music, has a knack for finding music that dovetails perfectly with the program’s theme.
The Chorale’s repertoire will draw from its participation in Sing for Water, whose mission is to help overcome poverty by enabling the world’s poorest people to gain access to safe water. The College Chorale is recognized as one of WC’s distinct points of pride.

Zana Briski will present a tribute to the resiliency of childhood and the restorative power of art as her film, Born into Brothels: Calcutta’s Red Light Kids, offers a portrait of several unforgettable children that live in the red light district of Calcutta, India, where their mothers are prostitutes.

Briski, a New York-based photographer, gave each of the children a camera and taught them to look at the world with new eyes. In Born into Brothels, she and her co-director, Ross Kauffman, chronicle the amazing transformation of the children they come to know in the red light district.

The photographs taken by the children are not merely examples of remarkable observation and talent; they reflect something much larger, morally encouraging and even politically volatile — art as an immensely liberating and empowering force.

The film, Born into Brothels: Calcutta’s Red Light Kids, will be shown at 3:45 p.m. in the McCoy Room of Kelly Center.

Other exhibits and activities occurring during the day will include: the exhibit, “Stories of Hope,” 3:45 to 5:15 p.m., at the Peace Resource Center; the exhibit, “Quaker and the Political Process: Living Our Faith into Action, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Meriam R. Hare Quaker Heritage Center; the exhibit, “The State of Peace,” Boyd Cultural Arts Center lobby, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and the art exhibit featuring works by Paul Hamilton, Harcum Art Gallery, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The Westheimer Peace Symposium promotes the exploration of peace as a viable, realistic alternative in a complex, violence-prone world. Each year speakers challenge WC students and the greater community by addressing a rotating array of topics, including nonviolence, social justice, the environment and the nature of war.

The late Charles and May Westheimer endowed the peace lecture series in 1991 with the hope that it would be a forum for the College community to be explicit about peacemaking, social justice, humanitarian service and respect for all persons.