Women's group is using a train to deliver its cargo: a message of peace Organization exchanges ideas with students at Goucher College forum

November 09, 1995|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,SUN STAFF

A peace train rolled into Baltimore yesterday, carrying a message to the next generation.

About 14 members of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) were greeted at Penn Station with songs of peace before journeying to Goucher College in Towson to meet with more than 50 high school and college students.

"It gives us a chance to talk to people. It's been just incredible," said Jean Gore, national WILPF president who has been traveling with the group since Nov. 1. The 11-city East Coast trip, designed to spread the group's message about peace, concludes Nov. 15 in Atlanta.

WILPF, founded in 1915, is considered the oldest continuing women's peace organization in the world with more than 40,000 members in 42 countries.

"The organization brings together women of many perspectives," said Marliese Diaz, chair of WILPF's Baltimore branch. "The common ingredient is the search for peace."

At Goucher, the group began a day of peace -- held as part of the college's 20th anniversary of women's studies -- with a free-flowing discussion on domestic violence, affirmative action and conflict resolution with 32 students from Milford Mill Academy.

Goucher students also attended the seminar.

"I wanted to hear what the students had to say," said Marla Zide, a psychology major who plans to work with middle and high school students after graduation.

The high school students told personal stories of abuse, explained how they try to avoid fights at school and offered possible solutions.

"We need to take young children and teach them, so they will be open to new ideas," said Teri Larkins, a Milford Mill senior.

Her words inspired Eleanor Otterness, 76, a longtime WILPF member from Minneapolis who is traveling with the group on Amtrak.

"I'm not so worried about handing over the world to them," she said.

"It's wonderful to know these kids are getting involved not only in women's issues but working for justice," said WILPF member Phyllis Yingling of Catonsville.

That is what Milford Mill teacher Quentin Wyatt was hoping to accomplish. "I'm trying to give them the wide scope. If they don't see past the textbooks, they don't really learn."

K. Salim Ajanku, 17, a Milford senior who took part in the affirmative action discussion, said he found the Goucher visit helpful. "It really makes a difference. In class, you hear the same views all the time."

Later, WILPF members attended seminars on torture and Latin American women, and rape and war. The program ended with an evening lecture on global civic responsibility.

The WILPF members were to visit the Julie Center in East Baltimore today.

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