John Camardella garners global view at conference
Camardella exchanges ideas with his “personal hero,” Desmond Tutu.
As an Illinois Wesleyan student, John Camardella ’03 was a standout on the Titan varsity
basketball squad, earning co-captain and “Most Valuable Players” honors. Among fans,
he was known for his knack for providing baskets and rebounds when they were most
The former history major is still providing help where he feels it’s most needed,
but now his arena is not a basketball court, but the world stage.
Teaching at Prospect High School in Mount Prospect, Ill., Camardella feels a special
obligation to convey to his students the knowledge and values he holds dear. So when
he received an invitation to attend a conference called the Quest for Global Healing
in Ubud, Bali, in May, he didn’t hesitate to sign up. Shortly after his return, IWU Magazine asked Camardella to describe some initial impressions about his experience. He wrote
“As a Midwest Delegate for The ONE Campaign (one.org), I attended the Live 8 concert
in Philadelphia last summer. The concert events were a push by Americans and the citizens
of the other G8 Nations to alert their respective governments to the poverty and AIDS
issues in Africa. It was a good start to solving these immense issues.
“At the concert, I was handed a flyer outlining a group called The Peace Alliance.
They were pushing for the United States government to form a Department of Peace as
part of the President’s cabinet whose job would be to provide peaceful solutions to
international conflicts and tensions. I immediately signed up and started donating
to the group. In February, I started receiving letters and e-mails from the Peace
Alliance inviting me to attend ‘The Quest For Global Healing’ (www.questforglobalhealing.org)
on the island of Bali, Indonesia. At first I was hesitant, due to the recent terrorist
attacks on the island, but after careful consideration and a quite a bit of planning
and fund-raising, I decided I would go.
“As a history teacher, I felt I owed it to myself and to my students to attend this
world gathering to see for myself what was being said about the major issues facing
our planet by countries other than America. The experience was life-altering.
“I attended sessions held by foreign diplomats, heads of state, religious leaders,
and activists. I was lucky enough to spend a few private minutes in conversation with
the Archbishop of South Africa, Desmond Tutu. He has always been one of my heroes
due to his work to end apartheid in his country and his dedication to working for
a lasting peace on this earth.
“I also became friends with the grandson of Nelson Mandela, Cedza Dlamini. He and
I had a wonderful conversation about what American high school students are missing
from their lives. His answer, ‘Passports.’ It was a great exchange that I actually
recorded on video and have shown to all my classes. He explained that if we understood
the world’s diverse cultures through personal learning experiences, American students
would understand the world much more clearly and truthfully. And to do that, they
“I can honestly say I now have a much clearer global view due to the time I spent
on the other side of the world. I see the human race as a complex organization with
the same needs and goals despite where we were born, what we believe, or how we live
our daily lives. I believe it is up to this next generation of Americans to fight
to make that famous phrase, ‘Unity within Diversity,’ a realization among the nations
of the world.”