Rumi Forum presented “Building Peace across Cultures and Faiths: The Muslim Mindanao Experience”, with Albert Santoli, President and Founder, Asia America Initiative
Mr. Santoli’s presentation will describe lessons he has learned in ten years of conducting community-based peace mediation in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao in the Philippines. As founder of the non-profit humanitarian organization, Asia America Initiative, Mr. Santoli is an innovator in bringing together people of diverse cultures and faiths in communities traumatized by decades of armed conflict. AAI achievements are centered on improving access to education for all members of communities and organizing, with the consent of tribal elders and other prominent leaders, groups of youth volunteers who help rebuild war-torn and deeply impoverished communities. He is the recipient of numerous awards for peace building, including a Presidential Citation from the President of the Philippines.
Albert Santoli is president and founder of the non-profit, Asia America Initiative. He is the former Senior Vice-President of the American Foreign Policy Council and Director of the Asia-Pacific Initiative. He is the Editor of the weekly e-publications China in Focus and Asia in Focus. In addition, he has worked as a foreign policy and national security advisor in the United State House of Representatives. In 2003, his AAI grassroots Development for Peace in Sulu project in Muslim Mindanao, Philippines received a Presidential Citation from President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for helping to hold the peace and deter terrorism in one of the most conflict-plagued regions of Southeast Asia.
Mr. Santoli is the author of numerous books and monographs, including the New York Times best-selling EVERYTHING WE HAD, An Oral History of the Vietnam War. He is also the author of TO BEAR ANY BURDEN: The Vietnam War and Its Aftermath; NEW AMERICANS: Immigrants and Refugees in the U.S. Today; LEADING THE WAY; and EMPIRES OF THE STEPPE: Russia and China, From Antiquity to 1912.
He has been a Contributing Editor at PARADE Magazine. Mr. Santoli’s writings have appeared in a variety of publications including The Wall Street Journal; Atlantic Monthly; The New Republic; The Washington Post; The New York Times; The Washington Times; Insight; USA Today; and Readers Digest. He has been a guest lecturer or panelist at Harvard University; Columbia University; the U.S. Naval Academy; the University of California; George Mason University; Nebraska University; the State University of New York; the Institute of World Politics, Washington, D.C.; the National University of Singapore; Chulalongkorn University, Thailand; and the National Defense University of the Philippines.
He has been a Senior Fellow at Freedom House, a consultant on refugee protection at the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, on the Asia Advisory Board of the International Republican Institute, and an Advisory Board member at the White House Commission on Remembrance. He is a member of the Disabled American Veterans for wounds received while serving in the US Army in Vietnam.
Discussant: Dr. Peter Cookson, Columbia University