Maria "Chayita" Lopez

Age: 97 -- Birthplace: Guadalajara, Mexico

My father was an alcoholic and lost all our families’ money. When I was young, to help support my family, I rose early each morning to grind corn into tortillas. Shortly after I was married, my husband was killed. I raised our two children with the help of my mother while I continued to work. It was a sad life, but I’m here.

Lessons from life... "respect people, be grateful for life, have compassion for others, help those in need and get along with others. If someone needs money, even if I only have a penny, I give it to them.

I eat a good diet, and do not smoke or drink. I maintain an active life, I don’t stop, I just keep going. God is with me, provides for me, and so, I never feel alone.

Mohammad M. Pourkarim

Age: 87 -- Birthplace: Pahlavi, Iran

My belief in faith has been a good motif for pulling me forward in Life. The basic needs of people are the same, but depending on when and where you have lived, the "want" is different.

Human beings do not want to resolve their differences, because man likes to be different. Everything he does serves that purpose, to be better than the other however he can. He uses means such as color, race, religion, or social status to differentiate himself from others. World peace is impossible to achieve because we love to be the boss, we love to order people around and our greed has no end.

I’ll always remember that there were worse days before and bigger obstacles in my life and I have overcame them somehow, and so will be the next one.


Age: 80 -- Birthplace: Yatung, Tibet

During my winters in Tibet, as a young girl, I collected wood to keep warm and grass to feed our Yaks. I so wished there had been a school to learn to read, but there wasn’t...I regret that.

China invaded my country in 1950 and today still occupies my home. In 1959 we were forced to escape. We began our journey at night, crossing the Himalayan Mountains and Tibetan plateau on foot, 15 days on horseback, and 3 days by truck. All our possessions and food was carried on our backs, and after a hard journey we arrived in Gangtok, Sikkim.

My spiritual life is that what goes around, comes around. If the Chinese held those beliefs they would be different and kinder.

Besides good luck, I pray to the Buddha for a long life. Everyday I rise at 4:00 am to begin my chanting for all sentient beings. I give offerings with daily prayers, and more prayers after more prayers.

Hardship is there, but I know that it does not stay forever. When I have to face [hardship], I know there is another side of the coin. I do not dwell.

His Holiness The 14th Dali Lama is my hero.


Age: 97 -- Birthplace: Kharpert, Western Armenia

Dr. Hagopian established the Armenian Film Foundation to Preserve Armenian Culture and Heritage, compiling 400 interviews with genocide survivors and witnesses. His life's work spans over 40 years and is part of the Shoah Foundation's library. At the time of this interview, the twice-nominated Academy Award documentary filmmaker was the world's oldest living survivor of the Armenian Genocide.

People create their own gods…God is not vengeful. People are vengeful hence war and violence.

[For a long life], create active and stimulating challenges for your mind.

I have not experienced great sorrow.

Whatever your ambitions, make them your best, keep climbing and achieving. The success of our civilization is based on achievement. Be true to yourself and be honest.

[In America] there is opportunity, less caste and social strata. Our political behavior has been criticized as juvenile, find more freedom in this country than most. At the age of nine, and still in the old country, I believed the streets in America were paved with gold.

I fear death... I can't conceive of it. My wish is to quietly pass in my sleep.

Nlongi J.P. Mfwilwakanda aka John Petelo

Age: 88 -- Birthplace: Balu, Congo RDC

My first pencil was my finger and the earth’s soil, my paper; that is how I began my education. My father was my hero and also my most important teacher. Most of what I am today is from him.

In 1961 I received a USAID scholarship to study in America. I was among the first Congolese students to be received at the White House, and honored to shake the hand of President John F. Kennedy.

Anyone who considers that skin color can create inferiority denies what God has done.

War is created by people who are not integrated with the word of God. Those leaders, even religious ones that create war, deny God and are manipulated by Satan.

Gwendolyn Sherard-Bishop, PhD

Age: 88 -- Birthplace: Roanoke, Virginia

I am the third generation of college graduates in my family. My mother's father, a child of slaves in Georgia, was the first.

I feel peace can be looked at as a more general term, regarding subjugating other peoples, conquering lands, trying to take as much as you can, whether it is in business or government. That is something that seems to have always occurred, I wonder why?

Don't give up on what you want to do. Find a way or make one! I still think that education is a very important factor. It is a competitive world and you have to be a part of it.

I have a problem with too much ethno-centricity and I would like to see people mix groups more than we have in this generation. There has to be a balance between assimilation and maintaining your own culture. It all goes back to a model! I don’t know how far away you can get from certain stereotypes.

Ambrose "Guy" Pasquini

Age: 82 -- Birthplace: Milan, Italy

War is for only one reason—profit. I was raised a Catholic under the dictatorship of Mussolini and Hitler. It took me a long time to undo the brainwashing, because to remove it is not easy. It is not always successful. Sometimes you die with it.

I enjoy working. Even when I worked for others, I was a good, strong and honest worker. I produced as much as I could regardless if the payment was low or high. My love of my work keeps me going, in good spirits and of great hope.

I feel sorry for the younger generation. Although they have more than we had, and maybe because they have more, they will not be able to fight for things that are good in life. We have led them to believe that money is most important. They have been given more than they need. They expect more. When a young person goes to look for a job, his first thought is, "What is the salary?"" This is a detriment because they will go through all their lives climbing the ladder. The higher you climb, the harder you fall. It should be a good feeling to go to work.

Stella Gusman

Age: 97 -- Birthplace: Ranch Mechilinda (East Pasadena), California

A descendant of the original settlers (three families) who created the Pueblo of Los Angeles.

My folks were very poor people, and never gave me the education I wanted. I was held back, I wanted so much. But my mother was my hero and teacher, she taught me never to be selfish, or jealous of anyone, and to respect peoples' differences, never have prejudices.

I've gotten so old and helpless; it upsets me that I have to impose on my family. My faith in the Lord is great; he keeps me going for a reason. Every morning I say, "Oh dear Lord, thank you for another day. Bless all my family, and bless this house and make it a happy home."

My advice... be good to people, love each other and have a loving heart, dance and sing, live good, be healthy.


Age: 87 -- Birthplace: Enugwu-ukwa, Nigeria

I've seen people forced to leave their homes, wandering with their children, staying in refugee camps. It is a horror. The killing is the worst, seeing dead people all over. Today there is no future for the young in Nigeria.

[I fear] kidnappers... because in Nigeria it is common. I abhor violence and never want violence to settle things... I prefer prayer. At the right time, God will come... have patience. The solution to war is difficult. God has prescribed our limits of what man can and cannot do. We are limited.

The biggest event in Cecilia’s life was the first time she saw a white-skinned person. I wondered where did they come from? How did they get here? How would they leave and find their way back home? I didn’t think they were real!


Age: 85 -- Birthplace: Cabugao, Ilocos Sur, Philippines

Survivor of the Batan Death March during WWII and Japanese concentration camp at Capaz, Tarlac; imprisoned in Japanese provincial jail of Ilocos Sur, Vigan; fought the guerilla war with the U.S. in the South Pacific; honorably discharged in 1946.

I did not fight with the thought of becoming a hero. I just did what I was ordered to do, but suffering such sacrifices and expecting death at any moment gave me the strength and the courage to fight. Through these trials it made me realize that there was always someone greater. Someone who was always with me.

In the many years of bitter struggles, and now much slower to make any move, yet still willing and daring to go into a fight for any issue that is worth fighting for. I devoted the last years of my life to still fight for these rights and benefits so deserving to all those who fought side by side with the Americans!

In the United States of America, where my aging limbs have taken me to spend the last years of my life, I've come to help and dedicate my services to organizations throughout my community.


Age: 88 -- Birthplace: Lumajang, Java, Indonesia

Gatot immigrated to the US to help start the Indonesian National Airlines.

My grandfather was my hero. He taught me so much about my culture, Islam and how to live a good life.

I am a Muslim, and my faith is a large part of my life. Even though I pray every day, I really don't know how it has affected me. I will find out for certain one day.

The best country in the world is the one where you can make a living and stay alive.


Age: 83 -- Birthplace: USA; moved to Hiroshima, Japan 1927

At the age of 18, Kaz witnessed the dropping and detonation of the world's first atomic bomb, "Little Boy", over Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. For the last 40 years, she has been a spokesperson for hope and peace, a message that resonates throughout her life story.

The most satisfying event of my life is telling my story to schoolchildren, and then hearing them yell, "No more war!"

Peace without love is impossible.

My parents taught us never to hate... no one is perfect, people make mistakes. Try to talk instead of fighting. Once we talk, we understand and become friends. The worst sickness is to hate... I want to be happy, not lonely.

My secret for a long life is simply to love and forgive.

Since I was a little girl, America was always my dream country... and still is.


Age: 80 -- Birthplace: Kathmandu, Nepal

My dream was to have my children educated in the United States. It was not easy to leave something you love (Nepal) for something else. But for my children, I sacrificed everything: my country, my friends, the closeness of my mother, everything.

If only human beings could renounce our selfishness, our greed, or even break away from our ego cage. If our leaders and people of all cultures and faiths all forget I, ME, AND MINE... our world would be a more peaceful haven.

Living a long life requires a driving force, a purpose, and love from your children. We need to be wanted. Without these ingredients it is easy to give up.

If you have nothing good to say, keep quiet. Once a word comes out, it cannot go back in!

Aba Mengistu Negusse

Age: 92 -- Birthplace: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

What we see and experience now is written in the Bible with the knowledge of the Holy Spirit, nothing happens that is not written. And what is written cannot be changed. We are expecting more difficult times and we are close to the end of time.

My first teachers were my parents. My father, a priest, very polite, and careful...not argumentative. Without saying a word I could understand him.

I wish and pray for peace, they have to do something, patience is imperative.

God's creation was perfect, without evil.

Rachel Lapin

Age: 87 -- Birthplace: Balistok, Russia

Founder and President of Organization for Victims of Terror in Israel

I left Israel with my feet, not my heart. It is my heart where my Judaism lives. I love tradition; I remember the songs of the shtetl where my parents sang to me.

No one can say they have it all. Even with the loss of my beloved husband of 33 years I feel lucky. This is my destiny. I am left with a large basket of memories.

It is important to love and trust all kinds of people—this is the source of my long life. To lack trust is a disease that interferes with peace. No matter how much education one has achieved, or how high their elevation as a leader, if they act out of prejudice and intolerance...I call them ignorant!

I am blessed to have a roof over my head and to have children that are the most giving human beings I’ve ever met.


Age: 83 -- Birthplace: Kandahar, Afghanistan

The essence of a long life is to love and be loved and to have patience during times of difficulty. My spirituality and faith are very important to me, they always have been...they give me comfort.

People from my region of the world have had to learn to be strong and they have acquired patience; they can endure and accept change.

I no longer have fears of life and death, I am happy. Every night I pray to God to make the end of my life easy, "a burning fever and a last warm breath."


Age: 91 -- Birthplace: Sefforieh, Palestine

While living in my homeland.... family, friends, and neighbors were always together. In America it is different, it is very lonely for me.

I have despair and I am tired. Everyone has disappointed me; I have lost hope in any heroes or ideas. Life has proved, they all come and talk about the same thing, but the situation never changes. Since I was a young man in Palestine, I hear the same things and nothing has changed nearly a century later. The pain of my hopelessness is too big to describe.

I do have hope—we cannot live without it. We have to keep positive. If I lose hope, there is no meaning for my life!

Mariyayee Chidambaram

Age: 81 -- Birthplace: Thathamangalm, India

I do not know much about the outside world. Maybe if people didn't know so much about the outside world, they would be more inclined to get along. I believe that God will keep me and my family happy, and those who believe in Him will have good things in life. I do not know why, but many years ago people were better. They weren't as selfish; they thought more about their families and today, they have changed.

I do not know why there is prejudice.

My belief and faith gives me strength through times that are so difficult.


Age: 81 -- Birthplace: Thathamangalm, India

I left Cuba in 1961. I was a journalist filming the Bay of Pigs invasion. After filming brothers killing brothers, witnessing mountains of dead and dying bodies and then having my film confiscated, I knew I had to seek freedom. I was able to emigrate to the United States in 1961. I was very lucky.

Yes, I believe in way. I never let anyone or anything control my mind, that's why I left Cuba.

I don't like the word hate. Love needs to be in my heart...I will die a happy man.


Age: 96 -- Birthplace: Munich, Germany

Faith has not affected my life, but the man upstairs has been very helpful in my survival. I was the lone survivor in my unit during the war...deep down, you know there's something!

I feel all people are the same and have similar needs and wants. There is good from every country, but people need to be left alone. It has been my experience that bad leadership creates vengefulness and war.

My dad was my most important teacher, he taught me to have my own ideas, and be true to myself. To know what's right and wrong.


Age: 98 -- Birthplace: Cochabamba, Bolivia

Religion is very important to me, the Ten Commandments are my guide. Many people don't believe in God anymore. They create their own opinions, their own churches, their own interpretations and they fight between themselves in the name of God.

Nothing will change with the world's absence of peace. Politicians shift to whatever will benefit them. They switch sides not to benefit people, but to keep themselves in a position of power. Unfortunately this is human nature, part of our human condition.

The biggest change to my life has been emigrating to the United States. There is no other country that is the same. Additionally I fear for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren because of all the terrible things that are happening in our world.

My advice to young people... Respect, Education and Family—they are all essential!


Age: 97 -- Birthplace: Wenzhou, China

Never get mad at anything. Keep calm. Do not get Lazy. Exercise, I walk every morning and evening, and play ping pong...I keep moving. I love to have people come to visit and cook for them. I keep my curiosity and mind active, I love to garden, and knit for my grandchildren.

World peace is mine and everyone's wish. But it is impossible. Our world is filled with conflict and not everyone is treated equal. In my family I have 5 children. They all think and approach their lives differently. Countries have their own agendas and politicians have selfish motives. It is hard to sit down together, to co-exist.

Be serious at what you are doing, do your best, and don't be greedy. Step back from arguments, look at things differently so you can get to a solution.

I have nothing to fear at this point in life... I still do not feel old.


Age: 82 -- Birthplace: Sighisoara, Transilvania, Romania

We left Romania when our government demanded my husband, an artist, join the Communist Party. At that same time our son had fled the country…my husband and I were frightened and we left.

My time at the university did not prepare me at all for life. I learned intellectually, but grew spiritually from my life experiences and my reliance on faith. Faith has kept me alive. I have discovered that I am a child of God. My mother taught me, what does not kill you, will make you stronger.

Americans can never comprehend what happened in '44 when Stalin and the Communists began to control my country. I witnessed soldiers who loved to kill and sought agony for others. Scholars, intellectuals, and artists went underground or were arrested and disappeared. They were a danger to the system.

We don't teach our children what you want. You teach them by what you are. Our children are always watching us.

Ingredients to a long life? Infinite Love!