Eduardo Rodrigues da Costa, Rotary Peace Fellow 2010-12; Global Grant Scholar at University of Manitoba, Canada, as told to Diana Schoberg. Photos by Monika Lozinska

“I was the first Rotary Peace Fellow from the Brazilian Amazon. The Amazon rainforest has a number of conflicts right now related to development, deforestation, and local indigenous people. I was interested in how we can promote peace by promoting sustainable development.

“I learned so much when I studied at the Rotary Peace Center at Duke University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. When I returned to my hometown of Belém, I took a position as a special advisor to the governor of the state of Pará. I was able to immediately apply all the things that I learned. For example, the governor sent me to a remote part of the state that was going through conflicts with a mining company. I conducted an assessment to understand the nature of the conflict and the community needs. As a result of my report, the government made improvements to schools and sanitation systems and increased their dialogue with the company. I’m now in a PhD program in Canada, where many of the challenges indigenous people face are similar to challenges they face in the Amazon.

“The Rotary Peace Symposium in Hamburg is the second I’ve attended, and I’ve been to three Rotary Conventions. The peace symposium is an amazing opportunity for peace fellows, both current and alumni, to get together to discuss what they’re doing now and how they can help each other. These international events re-energize me. I see that I am part of something much bigger than myself, not just Rotary Peace Fellow alumni, but Rotary as an organization. You get to meet like-minded people who believe that peace is possible.”