New at Earlham: Rafael Peres is experienced building bridges across borders

Rafael Peres is a first-year Earlham College student from Lisbon, Portugal.

Rafael Peres spent his childhood building international networks of friends and colleagues to promote peace on a global scale. He wasn’t trying to pad a resume or a college application either. Self-driven and thoughtful, he has a personality that lends itself to bringing people together. 

“I think I’m naturally a very empathetic person, and I can connect with how people feel and act,” said Peres, a member of Earlham’s fall entering class. “My family always told me that communication is the best way to solve issues.”

A native of Portugal and now a graduate of the United World College USA in New Mexico, Peres arrived on Earlham College’s campus this summer with aspirations of becoming a corporate diplomat.

“I think Earlham can give me the bridge I need to further my knowledge of different cultures and refine my social skills,” Peres said. “I chose Earlham because it made the best financial aid offer. It was also the school showing more dedication and commitment to its students.”

He already has significant experience working with diversified teams every step of his educational journey.

As a United World College student, Peres was invited by Victoria J. Mora, the president of United World College USA, to be his school’s representative in a transnational committee affiliated with the United Nations to maintain peace and coordinate the vaccination process against the COVID pandemic. The grassroots committee became known as the Pandemic Board of Inquiry.

“I was responsible for coordinating with Portuguese-speaking countries and others, including Brazil, Portugal, Angola, and Mozambique,” Peres said, noting that the committee earned the support of government officials in Portugal and Denmark.

“Our goal was to work with countries that have a neutral background. We didn’t work with any superpowers,” he said. “We wanted to reverse polarization in a powerful way to give lesser-known countries in the United States more of a voice. These countries have significant economic and political spheres of influence.”

He also was an editor for United World Wide, a magazine published by the United World Colleges, where he gathered student-submitted articles, poems, lyrics and other works of art to be published and shared around the institution’s 18 campuses.

Even back home in Portugal, Peres organized an exchange program with a high school in Belgium that reached 60 students. The program had a goal of busting stereotypes long held by Europeans from different regions of the continent. In another initiative called Global Issues Solidarity, he developed a letter writing campaign to advocate for indigenous peoples in Brazil impacted by deforestation and invasion of their lands.

At Earlham, Peres plans to study global management and philosophy. He said the EPIC Advantage, Earlham’s signature career-discernment initiative that offers funding to complete an internship, research experience, or community-based project, is a useful tool to pursue his dreams and continue working with diversified teams.

“I feel like I can harvest everything I want to do here.”

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Brian Zimmerman
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