Wars dehumanize. This book humanizes.
Speaking Their Peace gives a voice to people who have not been heard before, people silenced by the trauma of conflict, gagged by fear and conformity, or muted by the world's indifference.
These are "ordinary" people -- mechanics and priests, lawyers and farmers, journalists and teachers, youngsters and retirees. But they have extraordinary stories to tell of life during wartime and their efforts to build a better, more peaceful life for themselves, their families and their societies. They make clear the terms such a "rule of law," "justice," and "security" are not just intellectual notions but are of massive, real, and personal significance.
Their voices are unforgettable: powerfully, intimately human, heart-wrenching, and heartwarming in equal measure, singing a song of horror or of hope.
With a foreword by the Dalai Lama, Speaking Their Peace is packed with eighty compelling interviews with people from eleven conflict zones across the world (Afghanistan, Burma/Myanmar, Iraq, Kosovo, Liberia, Libya, Nepal, Nicaragua, Peru, South Sudan, and Yemen). Photos capture the diversity and personalities of interviewees, while short profiles of each conflict provide back ground and context.
The United States Institute of Peace's Colette Rausch has put together a book that will change the way readers think about how people cope with war and the transition from war to peace.
Colette Rausch is committed to participating in efforts to support peace and stability to war-torn societies, but her own life has been anything but orderly and ordinary.
Her adoptive father (a musician who learned to play performing for silent movie audiences as he traveled across the country with his father) and mother divorced when Colette was only eight years old. She and her brother sometimes found themselves with no roof over their heads, living in other people's homes or when they could afford it, in motel rooms. Colette started working at a McDonald's at fourteen and was the restaurant's manager by sixteen.
She began taking college courses as a senior in high school and moved herself into a college dorm. She worked her way through college, including a stint running the night shift in a funeral home. She dealt blackjack at a Reno casino after she earned a degree in journalism from the University of Nevada-Reno.
At first, she thought of becoming a war correspondent. But her love for justice won out, and she earned a J.D. in law from Santa Clara University. Around this time, she found her birth parents: her mother was living in the United States, and her father in Germany. They have remained in close touch ever since.
After practicing law for a large firm, she joined the State of Nevada's Attorney General's Office, where she first was the lawyer for the Consumer Affairs Division and later director of the telemarketing and consumer fraud unit. Her successes there led her to join the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ), where she worked in both the white-collar crime and the violent crimes unit as a federal prosecutor in Las Vegas.
She quickly earned a reputation for being a tenacious litigator, successfully prosecuting a number of prominent white-collar crime and consumer fraud cases. She also prosecuted the state's first case under the federal Violence Against Women Act, and the first case involving the federal anti-church burning law. Later, she become a federal public defender for death row inmates.
In the 1990s, as some Easter European countries struggled to make the transition to democracy. Colette's career took a new direction. She was appointed by the DoJ as its legal advisor, first in Hungary and later in Bosnia. In Hungary, she worked on the development of a crime task force. In Bosnia, she worked with local justice officials on law reform. She then returned to Washington, DC, as the DoJ program manager for Central and East Europe, establishing criminal justice development and training projects in Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, and Macedonia.
From there, Colette took a position with the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE), working closely with the United Nations on strengthening rule of law and adherence to human rights standards, training judges and prosecutors, defense counsels, and revising laws and establishing systems for monitoring human rights.
Today, Colette serves as Senior Advisor for Global Practice and Innovation at the United States Institute of Peace. USIP is an independent, nonpartisan organization funded by Congress that works to prevent and resolve international conflict. Colette leads the development of new approaches, research, learning and tools to be used to address violent extremism, strengthen inclusive societies,and promote justice, security and rule of law. She has worked in numerous countries embroiled in or emerging from conflict, including, Afghanistan, Burma/Myanmar, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Iraq, Kosovo, Liberia, Libya, Nepal, Nicaragua, Peru, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and Yemen.
Colette’s current work focuses on the nexus of neuroscience and peacebuilding and exploring what drives individuals and societies to resort to violence and what encourages people to turn from violence to peacebuilding. In 2018, she completed an intensive three year program and received certification in the neurobiology and resolution of trauma.
She has built a formidable reputation, both at home and abroad, for her commitment, integrity, inventiveness, and effectiveness.
Each member of the Speaking Their Peace team was crucial to the success of the project as a whole. Each brought his or her own unique skill set to our joint endeavor, allowing us to explore more widely and more deeply the transition from conflict to peace. What we shared in common were the qualities that made Speaking Their Peace possible: abundant curiosity, respect for our interviewees, a fascination with the stories they related, and a readiness to follow wherever an interview might lead.