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Peace Talks 

During one of the most consequential orations of his short term, President John F. Kennedy challenged AU’s Class of 1963 to pursue “not merely peace in our time, but peace for all time.” In honor of Kennedy’s landmark speech, “A Strategy of Peace,” which this June marks its 60th anniversary, American asked this generation of AU changemakers how they practice peace.


Photo­graphy by
Jeff Watts

Hegarty, Hull, Liebler, Farley, and Firestone

“I like making new friends and creating a safe space for others to be included.” —Cameron Hegarty, SPA/BA ’26

“Most conflict stems from not being able to relate to someone else. I try to get to know people and understand their values.” —Kate Hull, SPA/BA ’24
“Peace can be as simple as having a respectful conversation.” —Shelby Liebler, SPA/BA ’26

“I try to resolve tensions and drama between people in my dorm.” —Daniel Faricy, SIS/BA ’26
“I practice radical empathy and acceptance and make sure every person I meet feels like a friend. Peace is making sure everyone is seen and heard.” —Harrison Firestone, CAS/BA ’25

Diaz, Toubia, Ellington, Minguela, and Ackerman

“I go to therapy to advocate for my own peace and well-being.” —Isabella Diaz, CAS/BS ’26

“Peace is being tolerant and empathetic. It’s compromising and picking your battles.” —Eitan Toubia, undeclared ’26

“I’m an environmental science major so I find peace in nature. Nothing moves, it just exists.” —Taraji Ellington, CAS/BS ’25, SPA/BA ’25 

“I try to foster connections and find middle ground.” —Olivia Minguela, SPA/BA ’25
“Only in celebrating diversity and understanding different cultures can you have peace.” —Zoe Ackerman, CAS/BA ’25

Wilson, Martin, Gutierrez, and Filho

“I just returned from Accra, Ghana, where I learned about social justice movements in education. Peace is listening to the stories of community members to create desirable, feasible, and viable solutions.” —Johneé Wilson, SIS/BA ’24

“Last summer I interned with the Kenya Human Rights Commission in Nairobi. I find peace in working together to make the world a better place.” —Connor Martin, SIS/BA ’23

“As I grow up, I realize people’s emotions aren’t my responsibility. Being at peace with myself means knowing that some things are simply outside my control.” —Frida Gutierrez, SIS/BA ’25

“I’m very anxious but creating habits [for self-care] helps. Art and photography are forms of expression [through which] I find peace and calm.” —Guga Machado Filho, SOC/BA ’24

Myers, Foley, Schleicher, Santos-Blanco, and Sanchez

“I’ve always taken on the role of a peacemaker—I have two older sisters.” —Samantha Myers, SOC/BA ’25

“Finding balance gives me peace within myself.” —Aidan Foley, Kogod/BS ’26

“I practice empathy. I’m mindful of others’ struggles—and mindful of my own.” —Joy Schleicher, SIS/BA ’25

“I’m a neuroscience major, so I take a [clinical] approach to peace: I try to get to the root of a problem and find a solution.” —Victoria Santos-Blanco, CAS/BS ’25
“I work at a daycare center in Adams Morgan. When the kids say my name, it gives me peace.” —Sabrina Sanchez, CAS/BS ’25

York, Kaiser, Werckman, Henning

“I surround myself with supportive, positive people.” —Ryan York, SIS/BA ’26

“Peace is being surrounded by nature, practicing gratitude, and making people feel like they’re a part of something.” —Lily Kaiser, CAS/BA ’24, BS ’24

“Peace is about finding balance and listening to people’s needs—including my own.” —Ruby Werckman, SOC/BA ’25

“Internal peace is a constant struggle—but it gives me peace knowing that if I don’t have it now, it’s coming.” —Kayla Henning, CAS/BA ’24

Siddig and Miroshnichenko

“I draw strength from Islam; it’s a peaceful, forgiving religion. I have experienced racism, but instead of getting angry, I try to spread joy.” —Samar Siddig, SIS/BA ’26

“I am Ukrainian; peace means a lot for us. If we don’t win, peace will never come to our lands, never become part of our lives.” —Daniil Miroshnichenko, SPA/BA ’25