Augsburg News

News Archives - 2004

President Jimmy Carter inspires students to strive for peace at mini Nobel Peace Prize Festival

Mar. 5, 2004

The ninth annual peace prize festival was held in Si Melby gym at Augsburg College. "We are the future: Striving for peace around the world." These are the words recently sung at a two-day event celebrating peace, one that involved a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. President Jimmy Carter, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, and his wife Rosalynn were special guests at an event held at the JJ Hill Montessori School on Saturday, Feb. 21, hosted by Twin City area grade school students and Augsburg College students. The event honored Carter, acknowledging his tireless efforts to promote peace. The festivities that celebrated peace actually began several days earlier at the annual Peace Prize Festival.

The 9th Annual Nobel Peace Prize Festival was held at Augsburg College Feb. 19. The Festival, which is affiliated with the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo, Norway, is unique to Minnesota, and was established to raise awareness of the Nobel Peace Prize among K-12 students. The students, after having studied a Nobel laureate throughout the year, create a related exhibit or performance, which they bring to this one-day event.

This year's Festival was dedicated to honoring President Jimmy Carter, recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize. More than 700 students were on campus honoring other Nobel laureates as well, such as Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., Desmond Tutu, Doctors Without Borders, and Nelson Mandela.

Dave Dahl, KSTP-TV meteorologist, served as the emcee. Festival participants were treated to a visit by special guests from Norway, Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, former prime minister of Norway and director general emerita of the World Health Organization, the Honorable Knut Vollebaek, Norwegian ambassador to the United States, and Professor Geir Lundestad, director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute.

Two of Augsburg's international students from Norway, Monica Dahle and Beate Fjellanger, greeted Dr. Brundtland at the door and escorted her into the auditorium. All of the Norwegian guests watched the performances and then toured several of the displays. The Festival's major sponsors are Augsburg College and World Citizen, Inc.
Students from Clear Springs Elementary School in Minnetonka, who had a display at last year's Festival honoring Carter, issued a special invitation to him earlier in the year. Carter responded to the students, telling them he would not be able to attend the Festival, however, he would be in St. Paul on Feb. 21 and would like to visit a Peace Site School.

Immediately a plan was put into action - a mini Peace Prize Festival would be held at J.J. Hill Montessori School in St. Paul. Several schools that participated at the Festival were chosen to bring their display or performance to JJ Hill, but all the schools were invited to partake in this exciting day.

Carter and his wife, Rosalynn arrived at JJ Hill, accompanied by Augsburg College President William Frame and several other special guests, including Senator Mark Dayton. Augsburg students, Becky Welle, Elsa Maxwell, Natalie Brenner, Holly Johnson, Joelle and Katie Bickel and Dara Fernandez-Perez, along with Political Science professor Joe Underhill-Cady, were also at JJ Hill to greet Carter.

After touring the displays, the Carters were escorted into the auditorium, where the performances were held. Valley Crossing School of Woodbury sang a song specially written for the Festival titled "Thank You Jimmy Carter." Carter said the performance brought tears to his eyes and that he has never had song written about him before.

The Carters received a standing ovation as they left the auditorium. A once in a lifetime meeting for many of the students, and one, many said, they will never forget.