The Rotary Foundation has selected associate professor of public health, Dr. Dessa Bergen-Cico, to receive a 2017 Rotary Peace Fellowship as part of the Rotary Peace Centers program. She has been assigned to the Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand. The three-month program in peace, conflict prevention and resolution begins June 12, 2017.
For the past seven years, Bergen-Cico has been working with the local peace activists, former gang members and the greater Syracuse community to address the impact of violence on trauma and addictions. “I feel that it is more important now, perhaps more than ever, for people to practice non-violence—in our words and actions—and to learn strategies for effectively modeling, teaching and cultivating mediation, negotiation, conflict transformation and non-violence,” says Bergen-Cico.
Bergen-Cico explains that Syracuse has one of the highest poverty and homicide rates in the United States, a result of multiple factors including gang-related violence. Additionally, a substantial refugee population resides in Syracuse, representing many war-torn regions around the world. Furthermore, the city is home to a military veteran population that has also been impacted by violence. “All of these people have been affected by violence and represent how conflict and violence across the globe affects each of us,” Bergen-Cico adds. “Our city is a mirror of the global situation and the work I will be able to advance through my participation this program will be influenced by, and applicable for, many cultures.”