Maya Soetoro-Ng searches for a modern peace


Maya Soetoro-Ng speaks at the conflict workshop at Sacramento State in the Union, Friday, Feb. 26.

State Hornet Staff

Maya Soetoro-Ng, half-sister of President Barack Obama, hosted a student workshop teaching peace and conflict resolution on Friday, Feb. 26.

Soetoro-Ng and her organization, Ceeds of Peace, helped Sacramento State students learn how to advocate for peace in their own communities. The event also consisted of student-led discussions concerning definitions of peace and how to achieve peace.

Sac State student contributions on how to define and achieve peace included: Harmony is understanding what causes conflict and how to resolve it; Conflict is alleviated by listening to other perspectives; Giving a voice to the voiceless; Bringing love, harmony, and good character wherever you go; and Seeking to understand [others] before being understood.

During the event, Soetoro-Ng echoed the students’ contributions by expanding upon what they said.

“We have to understand without violence …[accept] the coexistence of different and possibly quite divergent ideas, [practice] constant reinvestment in one another, and be willing to be uncomfortable, to move outside of expectations,” Soetoro-Ng said.

Soetoro-Ng also told students what her definition of peace was.

“My belief is that peace within requires a lot of critical thinking,” Soetoro-Ng said. “And it also requires a lot of courage. Courage is about having the tenacity to move forward and take steps, act, strive, and work in the face of daunting challenges and big walls in front of you.”

Soetoro-Ng also said a concern that troubles many young adults is the feeling of not being able to make a significant enough difference.

“We want to make sure that you are not feeling that these problems are insurmountable. We can make progress,” Soetoro-Ng said. “We believe that progress, in order for it to be sustainable, though, requires a 360 degree approach and 360 degree thinking, where all of the Ceeds of Peace are connected and where home, school, and community are connected.”

Soetoro-Ng’s speech inspired students to begin implementing change said Alejandro Aguilar, a sophomore who leads Sacramento State’s College Assistance Migrant Program.

“This will be valuable information we can all benefit from and put into practice to become better members of our community,” Aguilar said.

Another student admired Soetoro-Ng’s focus on gradually building up to attaining peace.

“I thought it was great,” said Paul Gaines, a senior majoring in criminal justice. “My favorite thing was that she talked about the little things we can do in our community to make changes – start small, and go big.”

Soetoro-Ng said she encourages the audience to act now, rather than later.

“If you want to be a leader, act like one immediately,” Soetoro-Ng said. “Begin to engage in daily acts of small leadership. If you want to be empowered, claim your power, use your voice, and believe yourself to be strong.”

Updated February 26, 2016 to reflect additional information