By Julia Train
Every December, 3,720 miles away, the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony takes place in Oslo, Norway.
Four students from the Student Nobel Peace Prize Project, a course offered through Rider’s global studies program attended the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. On March 23, as a requirement for the class, they hosted a teach-in to talk about their experience.
The annual spring course, taught by Roberta Fiske-Rusciano, focuses on teaching students how the Nobel Peace Prize nomination process works through collaborating with students from Notre Dame University in Louaize, Lebanon, via Zoom.
Paola Carlesso, a junior global studies major and Sydney Tierney, a senior global studies major, took the class when it debuted in spring 2021 and nominated Alimenta de Solidaridad, a Venezuelan organization that addresses food insecurity.
“Peace is such a broad term and can be used in so many different ways. They address the root cause of what causes conflict, violence, political instability,” said Carlesso.
As a Venezuelan exchange student, she felt drawn to the organization.
The semester started the same way for both classes: the students brainstorming random names and organizations that they believed had a significant impact on world peace.
As the semester went on, the list was cut in half multiple times until they reached their final verdict, ensuring throughout they were using reliable, non-opinionated sites to make their decision on who to eliminate.
When their choice was final, the students worked together to write the letter, and the professor sent it since she was the one with the ability to nominate.
“The Nobel Prize for physics and literature are a little more concrete to determine if you can be a suitable candidate for those, but peace is so broad,” said Anjali Chennapragada, a senior health care policy major. “Controversy [of the candidate] was also a big piece of it. It was up to us to decide if that [controversy] was severe enough that it outweighs the benefit that they had.”
Carlesso and Tierney’s class was invited to the 2021 Nobel week in Oslo, however, due to health protocols announced close to the ceremony, they couldn’t attend.
Instead, they joined two peers from the spring 2022 class for the awards in December.
Chennapragada and Ranai Morgan, a junior political science major, nominated Omar Alshogre for the 2023 prize.
Alshogre is a Syrian public speaker, human rights activist and the director for detainee affairs at the Syrian Emergency Task Force.
The four spent six days in Norway accompanied by Fiske-Rusciano and Frank Rusciano, director of the global studies program.
Not only did they see the awards, but they also attended the Nobel Peace Prize Forum the next day at the University Aula, in Oslo.
The keynote speaker was Filippo Grandi, a previous Nobel Peace Prize laureate and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also attended and was interviewed during the forum.
After about a week, the four headed back home. They took their finals and wrote their final papers on the plane ride back.
“[The class] gave me the opportunity to connect on a global level with another school. Working with the students in Lebanon was very enriching and it expanded our global perspective by being able to connect” said Tierney.