Challenge Week

At a January 26, 2023 meeting of the United Nations Security Council,  Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed noted that about 2 billion people–a quarter of the world’s population–live in places impacted by violent conflict. The United Nations Refugee Agency’s website reports that last year, in 2022, the number of people displaced from their homes, fleeing war, violence, and persecution, surpassed 100 million for the first time.  

For many of us here in central Arkansas, these conflicts may seem far away.  They are a newspaper headline or disturbing image we see on the internet.  The goal of this year’s Challenge Week is to not only bring sustained attention to two major global conflicts–Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Syria’s civil war–but to reflect on why global conflicts playing out over 6,000 miles away from Conway matter to us.  Why is it important that we’re aware of the destruction and suffering of places and people beyond our national borders?  What is our responsibility?  What should and what can we do, as citizens and as a country?

Challenge Week speakers, art exhibits, and workshops will allow our community to see these conflicts through the eyes of individuals who are working to find ways to bring these conflicts to just and equitable ends, many of whom have been directly impacted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine or the civil war in Syria.  Each speaker will, in their own way, challenge us to make connections between here and there, to care and act.