Nobel laureate Jody Williams sat on the stage, wearing a T-shirt, jeans and black cowboy boots with teal stitching. She dangled one leg over the edge, swinging her foot as she spoke to an audience that packed the Memorial Union Ballroom.
"Real, sustainable peace is not just the absence of war. Real, sustainable peace is a world in which people's basic needs are met," Williams said. "War is just powerful people wanting other people's resources. War is not glorious."
It was Williams' second time participating in PeaceJam, an international education program that works with Nobel Peace Prize winners to engage young people in volunteerism and encourages them to transform themselves, their communities and the world. About 300 students, teachers and college mentors attended the two-day PeaceJam conference at Oregon State University.
After the speech, students rushed the stage. Walter Serafini, from Vacaville, Calif., hopped on stage and put his arm around Williams for a photo.
"Would you sign this?" asked Jovan Olison, from People's High School in Vallejo, Calif. Williams signed Olison's orange PeaceJam T-shirt. "Women rock!"
Lincoln School students Annika Gabriel, 13, Grace Spann, 13, and Rose Goldberg, 13, all from Corvallis, huddled around Williams. "Nice to meet you. I really enjoyed your speech," Gabriel said.
"I love that she talked to us like adults. We can understand this," Spann said.
"Better than a rock star," said Gabriel of Williams' presence.
Williams received the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with the campaign she worked for, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.
"The overarching objective is to create a new generation of peacemakers for positive change in the world," said Ann Robinson, the affiliate director. "We believe it starts with feeling like personally you can make a change. Your actions matter."
And action is required.
"Emotion without action is irrelevant," Williams said.
In the afternoon, PeaceJam participants went to work at 13 different service projects in the community.
Williams joined 15 students at the Starker Arts Garden for Education. Volunteers tend the 1-acre garden, and the organic produce goes to local food banks and soup kitchens, said manager Travis Whitmer.
"No spraying the Nobel laureate," Williams said, joking as she walked by students watering savoy cabbage starts they'd planted.
Attending for the first time, Hector Cisneros, from Linus Pauling Middle School, planted broccoli. "I like the Nobel laureate," he said. "She's open-minded. She doesn't leave her feelings inside her. She doesn't care what people say."
Three students from Whidbey Island, Wash., gathered around Williams.
"We were talking about peas," said Nicole Ledgerwood, 16, of Clinton, Wash. All three wore necklances with peace symbols. "We bought these as a kind of bonding thing in Corvallis."
Taya Jae, 16, from Langley, Wash., threw her arms around Williams and gave her a long embrace. "I felt compelled to hug her."
"I love PeaceJam," Williams said. "I really believe it transforms the lives of kids. And they're fun. I like the kids."