Posted by: ourvoicestogether | September 13, 2007

Four Texas Americans Describe International Efforts

Safer, More Compassionate World Forum: Tyler, Texas — see photos here

The sixth anniversary of 9/11/01 was commemorated in Tyler, Texas with a Patriot Day symposium on the University of Texas campus. The theme “Building a Safer, More Compassionate World” was articulated by four Americans who are working for positive change.

Marianne Scott, executive director of Our Voices Together, began with the story of how surviving families and friends of 9/11 victims formed the organization. The goal is to counter the forces of extremism by inspiring individual Americans to invest their time, talents, and resources in ways that strengthen and unite communities.

Anwar Khalifa, a Tyler businessman and leader of its Muslim community, stressed change and action. “To be an agent of change,”he said, ” I have to start with myself.” Then, a citizen can involve himself in his local community and become an agent for positive change.

Khalifa’s message was highlighted by Hannah Walker, director of family services for Habitat for Humanity of Tyler. A former member of the Peace Corps, she lived in Bulgaria for two years and now builds homes for families locally and overseas. Her message stressed that Americans can be goodwill ambassadors abroad as we demonstrate compassionate concern.

The fourth panelist’s message was an appeal for peace. “We all are different, and yet we are all very much the same,” said Becky Raymond, an activist with the Peace Alliance. Her special focus is the creation of a Department of Peace at the federal level that would focus on conflict resolution both domestically and internationally.

Dr. Robert Sterken, UT political science professor who moderated the panel, challenged the audience to cultivate their humanity. “When we hide in our little world, we lose our humanity,” he said.

The local sponsor, the League of Women Voters of Tyler/Smith County, supported the panelists’ messages with a Goodwill Expo of more than a dozen organizations who distributed information and enlisted support. Among these were Doctors Without Borders, the Heifer Project, Finca International, the American Red Cross, Mercy Ships, and the Salvation Army.



  1. From Dee Brock, president, Tyler-Tx League of Women Voters:

    The members of LWV-Tyler/Smith County think your organization is really wonderful, and we are using what we learned as a basis for a topic in our Speakers Bureau. On October 4, I made the first such presentation using the same title – “Building a Safer, More Compassionate World” – to the Henderson’s Women’s Organization, and they were quite enthusiastic.

    Best wishes for even more networking and good works.

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