IGE is a meeting place for community groups that share our concerns about human rights and education for multicultural and religious awareness. We promote peaceful conflict resolution through training, workshops with youth and adults, and ongoing community discussion.

Over 200 rally to Dump Trump in Grand Rapids!

By Tom Burke

Over 200 people from West Michigan rallied to “Dump Trump!” on December 21, 2015. Organized by the Grand Rapids Anti-War Committee along with immigrant rights groups and student activists, it was the largest protest seen at a Republican campaign rally in Grand Rapids that anyone remembers. Trump and his supporters were confronted by a large crowd waving signs and chanting in opposition to his campaign of racism and war.

Burton Kroes of IGE led chants on a bullhorn as Trump supporters entered the parking lot, “Dump Trump! Dump Trump!” and “Hey Donnie! Let’s be clear, refugees are welcome here!”

Mike DeRuiter, also with the Anti-War Committee, stood with a big “Dump Trump” banner, anchoring the spot where hundreds gathered to send a clear message. DeRuiter said, “Look, the last thing we need is another Wall Street politician like Donald Trump. We are out here to oppose Trump and the Republican agenda of hate, fear and war.”

DeRuiter, pointing across the road to where immigrants gathered to demand respect and equality said, “Immigrants contribute a lot to this country, while billionaires like Trump profit off of them. Trump wants to scapegoat Muslims and refugees when the real problem is Wall Street and its wars in the Middle East.”

Eleven different people disrupted Trump’s hour-long speech inside, as 6000 Trump supporters and curiosity seekers listened. There was wide local and national media coverage of the protesters and their progressive, pro-equality message. The Trump campaign seemed unprepared for such a large protest in a part of the country dominated by conservative billionaires like himself.

Republicans have not stirred this much controversy in Grand Rapids since Gerald R. Ford pardoned the impeached President Richard Nixon following the Watergate burglary scandal.

Shame on Governor Snyder! Stand with refugees!

With signs reading, “Shame on Snyder, thank you Heartwell” and “Stop war, not refugees!”, the Grand Rapids Anti-War Committee brought the torch of tolerance downtown on Nov. 30, 2015. They joined together with the weekly peace vigil under the steady gaze of the Union Soldier monument at Fulton and Division streets.

The 20 protesters, members and supporters of IGE, gathered in response to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s anti-refugee comments. Snyder kicked of a nationwide Republican campaign of fear and hatred towards Syrian and Iraqi refugees when he announced he was putting a pause on refugees coming to Michigan. Mayor Heartwell on the other hand said we must not give into fear.

At the busy corner of Fulton and Division, drivers honked their horns and gave protesters the thumbs up every time the traffic light changed. Kiersten Quilliams of IGE stood with her friends and held a sign with an image of the Statue of Liberty reminding people, “Refugees are welcome here!”

Passersby stopped to take flyers, ask questions, and show support. It was clear that public support for refugees, and against endless U.S. wars, is stronger than the corporate media portrays.

The Grand Rapids Anti-War Committee statement read:

“By claiming he will put Syrian refugees ‘on pause,’ Michigan Governor Snyder is not only threatening to violate federal law but also endangering the lives of the existing Syrian refugee population here in Michigan, and all Muslims and Arab Americans.

“Thanks to Governor Snyder’s comments last week, Republican governors and presidential candidates across the country are now promoting racism, hatred and bigotry. This creates theconditions for bigots and white supremacists to harass and attack Arab Americans, Muslims and anyone else they decide to target. It reminds us how this country treated Jews fleeing German Nazism, and the disgraceful imprisonment of Japanese Americans in concentration camps.

“We Michiganders will not allow this hatred and bigotry, as this governor attempts to go rogue against federal law, UN Human Rights and common human decency. Syrians are refugees from a civil war provoked by the U.S. State Department, with arms and funding from the U.S. government.

“We invite you to come stand with the refugees and send a message to Governor Snyder. We will demand that Snyder, and all the other racist governors admit refugees, especially from war-torn Syria. If there were no U.S. wars in the Middle East, there would be no refugees.

IGE rallies support for Iran agreement

By Staff

On Jan. 12, a U.S. Navy boat wandered into Iranian waters and the crew was captured. What could be seen as a provocative and dangerous situation, resulted instead in goodwill from Iran. The U.S. Navy crew was shown relaxing together on TV and one U.S. sailor spoke of the good treatment and understanding expressed by Iranian officials.
The positive response by Iran is a direct result of the peace agreement covering nuclear weapons and an end to U.S. sanctions. Without the agreement, this incident could easily have been seen as a provocation or even aggression by the U.S.

Back in September, a dozen peace and justice activists gathered at the Ford Federal Building in downtown Grand Rapids to support the Iran nuclear agreement, which effectively ends U.S. sanctions against Iran. The street corner rally was seen by hundreds of rush hour drivers on their way home. At one point, a weathered pick-up truck with hunting and gun logos pulled alongside the rally, the grizzled looking driver leaned over and gave a thumbs up to the protesters.

The Iran nuclear agreement comes at a time when the U.S. is trying to extract itself from the seemingly endless wars initiated by the Bush administration and continued under President Obama. While the whole world supported the peace deal and improving relations with Iran, only the Republican Party leadership and Israel opposed it and worked to sabotage it.

Kate Shockey initiated the sign holding here in Grand Rapids by introducing a resolution to the Institute for Global Education (IGE) Board welcoming the nuclear peace deal. Some IGE members spoke about how the peace deal should end the punishing sanctions imposed by the U.S. government, but warned the U.S. is known to break treaties or raise new claims as they did with Iraq.

Anti-war activists are well aware that sanctions are a form of warfare that the U.S. government uses to punish the people of another country.  Following the first U.S. war on Iraq under President Bush in 1991, U.S. President Clinton imposed sanctions on Iraq that killed hundreds of thousands of children and elderly people. There was little to no access to clean water, electricity, medicines, and some basic foods needed for a healthy life.

At the time, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright, appointed by Clinton, infamously justified the horrible deaths of half a million Iraqi children by saying, “We think the price is worth it.”

Other IGE members also pointed out the hypocrisy of the six countries involved in the negotiations–U.S., U.K., Germany, France, Russia, China–all holding large nuclear weapons arsenals themselves. Nationally, many peace and justice activists are concerned that Israel, unstable and aggressive, is the only country in the Middle East estimated to have 300 nuclear weapons, held in secret.
The Obama Administration, at the behest of Wall Street, is attempting to extract the U.S. from a long-term military presence in the Middle East, so it can shift its focus to the large markets in Asia. The Iran nuclear deal and end of sanctions are part of this continuing strategy shift.

Our Betty

Mike Franz, a long-time Institute for Global Education Board Member, peace and justice activist, and retired schoolteacher remembers his friend and IGE founder Betty Ford.  

Our Betty

We knew her as just Betty, but you had to introduce her as Betty Ford to others, which invariably led to a puzzled look on someone’s face and the predictable question: “Are you really Betty Ford?”  We would reply “No, she is our Betty Ford.”  Judi Buchman and Katie Villaire and I would love to repeat this story over the years that we worked with her on Peace Education in the schools.

My first contact with Betty was in 1984 when planning the first Week of Peace Education with the Grand Rapids Public Schools.  Educators for Social Responsibility led the way with IGE on board.  Dr. Sigal even got a complementary Resolution from the Mayor and city commission to go with our Board resolution which we still use today, 35 years later.  This was the spring and Betty would soon retire but expressed her gratitude for having permission to teach about peace for the first time in all her years as a practitioner and advocate of global education.  She directed our first program towards encouraging children to make peace posters which we would display.  Every participant was to receive recognition for participating.  This was not a contest, and everybody would win.  And adults could view the ideals of peace through the innocent eyes of children, which can always be creative and instructive.  Every year we would display the children’s art at various places, the public museum, GRCC, Breton Village, City Center et al.  The media loved it, especially if there was a war on like Desert Storm.

It was not long before Betty became the head and chief source of inspiration for three decades of programs.  She initiated a Peace Calendar that was popular in classrooms featuring children’s line art and holidays and dates commemorating other cultures and times of peace.  We put out a newsletter to the schools.  All of this had to be planned on a schedule and Betty was good at creating timelines for our finishing our work and making sure we did this on time.  In her own gentle way she would persuade us to just get it done.  Then she would ask, what else should we be doing to improve the program?  We kept busy under her gentle but firm guidance.

When it came to fundraising, Betty would plan carefully ahead so we would have money to work with, and of course there never was enough.  So she would slip in a hundred or two at the end to make it work.  Her attitude was always, don’t worry, we will find the money.  One particular program called for supplying teachers and school libraries in every subject matter area with booklets on teaching peace.  Soon every discipline in the schools had ample materials to use to teach peace throughout the year, whether it be art, music language arts, social studies, math or science.  To fund this, she and I wrote and delivered a proposal to the Dyer-Ives Foundation which they generously supported even though our Betty was not THE Betty.

That was not enough.  Betty had accumulated so much information on holidays and ethnic festivals from doing the calendar that she just had to write and publish her own book, Educating for Peace:  Curriculum Planning with a Global Perspective. 1997 (for pre-K, K and early elementary).  She had to pay for the printing of the first 800 copies and I went to Lansing with her to pick it up.  Frankly, we could easily have a display at IGE of all the materials she engineered all of those years!  I do not remember the actual day or meeting, but Betty came as she always did only this time she had with her an Operation Earth cloth bag filled with examples of the legacy of her years of work on Peace Education.  With a steady but resolute eye she handed it to me.  I understood her intentions, that this work was not in vain, that it would be carried on, and that I was the logical person to receive it since time was on my side to continue this work, which will probably always be unfinished.

Yes, Betty Ford was our first lady of peace and always will be.  She will not get a Nobel Prize for her efforts or much recognition outside of the community of people she loved and worked with, but I cannot help but cherish her for all she gave to me personally and to so many others, her students, her associates, the teachers she inspired for so many years, her family and friends.

Challenge Grant

Dear Friend, Great news for the Institute for Global Education!

Fountain Street Church’s Social Action Committee has awarded IGE a challenge grant: They will match any money we can raise dollar for dollar up to $1000! After the first $1000, Fountain Street Church will match our money, 50 cents on the dollar up to another $1000! This is an enormous opportunity for IGE! We will use the money to pay office expenses and hire an office coordinator to make sure our office runs smoothly and help with vital programs such as our “Refugees are welcome here!” demonstration, Mandela Day celebration, Peace Week activities and Interfaith Service, IGE Talks on GRTV, and much more. Our office currently hosts study groups, petition drives and meetings with various groups.

Won’t you help us? Please give generously so we can take advantage of this wonderful opportunity! So please donate $100, $50, or $20 today.

Make your check out to the Institute of Global Education, writing FSC Challenge Grant in the memo line and send to IGE. Donations are deductible to the full extent of the law as IGE is a 501(c)(3). We also take PayPal, credit cards, and cash.

For more information, call us at (616) 454-1642, visit the office or email Kate Shockey (email hidden; JavaScript is required). Thank you!

On behalf of IGE,
Katie Villaire, IGE Board President
1118 Wealthy Street SE
Grand Rapids MI 49506

Peace and Justice Potluck

The Institute for Global Education is holding a Peace and Justice Potluck:

5pm to 8pm on Tuesday, November 10, 2015.

Trinity United Methodist Church
1100 Lake Drive SE, Grand Rapids, MI

IGE is an organization dedicated to bringing about justice through peace. We will be remembering long-time local peace activists who have passed on this year, notably Betty Ford and Jasiu Milanowski. This meeting includes a potluck supper, election of board, recap of our events this past year, plans for the future. Meet with old friends and make new ones! This event is free and open to the public – bring interested people!

Nelson Mandela Day – 2015

Mandela Day Poster

On Friday, come celebrate Nelson Mandela’s birthday and lasting legacy! We will have cake and refreshments at the IGE office, complete with music and a community discussion. The office will open at 4 p.m., the discussion will begin at 5:30. Join us!

On Saturday, there will be a wide array of activities, including poetry, a drum circle, live music, and a panel. Stay posted for the Facebook post on the event!
Event is free and open to the public- please invite everyone you know.