Peter C. Andersen ’77

2012 Charles J. Turck Global Citizen Award

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Peter C. Andersen has come a long way from Maple Plain, Minnesota—both figuratively and literally. And Macalester, he says, was the catalyst for that.

Almost a decade ago, Peter moved back to Sierra Leone, a country he’d grown to love while serving there in the Peace Corps in the late ’70s and early ’80s working within the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. Since 2003 he has been working for the Special Court for Sierra Leone, an international criminal tribunal charged with trying those who committed atrocities against civilians during the country’s civil war.

Getting from then-rural Maple Plain, Minnesota, to Africa was a life-transforming event that began to take shape at Macalester. “It was the curriculum, the exposure to fellow students from many countries, and the opportunity to study abroad,” that set him off on this path, he says.

Although Peter left Sierra Leone in the early ’80s, he never stopped being passionately interested in the country. In March 1991, when the Revolutionary United Front rebels crossed into eastern Sierra Leone from Liberia, people around the world discovered that news about the civil war was almost nonexistent. In 1996, in the midst of brutal conflict, Peter founded the Sierra Leone Web to report credible information on the country and the war. “I soon found myself at the electronic crossroads of Sierra Leone,” he says, “communicating daily with government, rebels, opposition, diplomats, journalists, and civil society.”

What is Peter proudest of? “When the people of Sierra Leone were in desperate circumstances, I did everything I could to help them, and to make sure that the world could not turn its back on them.”