Rune Percy, a senior mechanical engineering major, is about to learn how technical skills and a passion for social entrepreneurship can be combined to promote the ideals of the world peace movement. Beginning on Jan. 31 through Feb. 5 Percy will be a youth delegate at the 16th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Bogota, Colombia, one of a few hundred young people and college students from around the world who are attending the annual event.
Percy says he views the summit as an opportunity to measure the skills he has learned against those he may need to develop in the future as he works to help solve social and environmental problems.
At the gathering in Colombia, he’ll be meeting with and hearing from former laureates including Lech Walesa, former president of Poland and labor leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, former head of the Soviet Union, Shirin Ebadi, Iranian lawyer and human rights activist, and Jody Williams, American human rights advocate working to ban the use of land mines.
The World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates is internationally recognized as an important annual event in the field of peacemaking, attracting Nobel Peace laureates, high-profile leaders, organizations, students, and professors from around the globe since 1999.
“I see this as an opportunity to meet people from around the world and engage in solving problems,” Percy says. “Mostly it’s a learning opportunity for me.”
At a more local level, Percy has been involved as a co-founder of the UMass Social Entrepreneurship Club and as former president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
He also helped organize the 2016 UMass Amherst Hult Prize Competition, part of a global challenge. The Hult Prize, is a start-up accelerator for social entrepreneurship, which brings together the brightest college and university students from around the globe to solve the world’s most pressing issues.
Percy says the opportunity to attend the meeting in Colombia has already yielded some valuable lessons. He says he created a Go Fund Me campaign to help raise money for the trip and after collecting just a few hundred dollars, realized he needed to try something else. After making requests for money to various campus offices he found success when Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy agreed to provide the necessary funding.