Speakers discuss peace through public service

Liz Bush (left) and Tom Bersani  (right) speak at last week's Sunrise Rotary Club Peace Forum at Skaneateles High School.

Liz Bush (left) and Tom Bersani (right) speak at last week's Sunrise Rotary Club Peace Forum at Skaneateles High School. Photo by Joe Genco.

While men and women were honored on Veteran’s Day for their service to the United States, an event in Skaneateles highlighted how veterans and civilians alike can serve their country and promote peace in the world.

A six-person panel composed of people from around Central New York gave its thoughts on achieving peace through service at a Skaneateles Sunrise Rotary Club Peace Forum held Nov. 12 at Skaneateles High School.

Rotary club member Jim Lanning introduced the guests and introduced the theme of the evening: “Striving for peace in today’s world.” Lanning said the event was scheduled purposefully for the day after Veteran’s Day.

“The veterans and the service they have provided and the sacrifice that they have made is always striving for peace and peace must accompany justice,” he said.

The first speaker of the night was Liz Bush, who twice participated in Rotary International’s youth exchange program travelling to Spain and Thailand. Since then she had traveled to a variety of places around the world and shared wisdom about spreading good will to foreigners.

One important thing to do when traveling is to make an effort to learn key phrases in other languages to help break down cultural barriers and dispel negative stereotypes about the United States, Bush said.

“Even if you learn five basic phrases — basically hello, please, thank you, excuse me and I’m sorry — if you can get those phrases down in your target language then it’s amazing how differently people act around you and treat you,” she said.

Dr. Tom Bersani an ocuolplastic surgeon, an ophthalmologist specializing in corrective surgery to fix blindness, spoke about his volunteer work with the international organization Doctors Without Borders.

With the group Bersani has traveled to Hondouras and western Africa to health clinics where he has performed surgeries to correct blindness in impoverished areas. He will also be traveling to South Sudan next year on a trip coordinated by the Skaneateles-sponsored John Dau Foundation.

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