just peace

*my opinions and feelings are expressed in this blog and not meant to offend anyone's political views.

oh my god – academia never felt so good! Pure and utter ecstasy describes my feelings best. I’m a student again and finally dedicating myself to my true passions and dreams. I have never felt so whole in my entire life.

Stepping on campus for the first time, I knew I was home. Academia is my utopia. Put me in a classroom with engaging topics and people and I’ll want for nothing…well, maybe with the exception of french fries and diet coke.

My excitement hit a new level at my Faculty of Arts Orientation Dinner on the 25th. Free wine, appetizers, and meeting and mingling with my new MPACS (Masters in Peace and Conflict Studies) friends and colleagues = euphoria. We are from all over the world, and as we met each other excitement about our future discussions grew and grew. And added bonus, after the dinner a handful of us kicked the semester off right with three rounds of beer at a local bar in Glebe (my neighborhood). Despite everything, it is good to know that beer is a universal language – maybe beer is the pathway to peace?

Yesterday, Monday March 1, was the official first day of school. Funny thinking how many first days of school I’ve had, and wondering if this would be my last. I hope not!

Three hugely exciting things happened over the past two days…First, the moment I’d most been waiting for – I met Jake Lynch – my idol! And, he is my professor!! A little background on this man, he is a former BBC correspondent and journalist, and the leader and one of the first practitioners of Peace Journalism. I studied his work and consequently wrote my senior thesis on Peace Journalism. Needless to say I am beyond star struck – and he undoubtedly knows my undying adoration. And to clarify, by professor, some may assume I am one of 500 in an impersonal lecture hall and Jake will never know of my existence. Oh no, that is not the case at all. The MPACS department is maybe that of 100, including professors – so class sizes are 35 and under, and he definitely already knows me by name. go me ☺

The second hugely exciting moment was fully understanding what a world class program I am now a part of. Besides being one the best programs and universities for Peace and Conflict Studies in the world, I am studying with tremendous people, with tremendous experiences and passion. During class introductions I realized just how international and outstanding my cohorts are… they come from Germany, Iraq, Australia, Finland, Nepal, New Zealand, Afghanistan, Norway, Iran, Faeroe Islands, China, US, Mongolia, France, UK, and including a diplomat from Sri Lanka, a war journalist and a military officer from the Philippines, and a nurse from Hong Kong…and those are just what I remember! One French man, Leo, was actually born in Sudan, has lived in Ethiopia most of his life, university educated in England, and now studying in Sydney! And in a class today we were discussing the relationship of human rights, peace, and justice, and a man from Iraq spoke of his experiences (under Saddam’s rule), and how living in Iraq was like living in a peaceful prison –relative peace, but no rights.

I am absolutely blown away by everyone’s different perspectives and backgrounds. Can’t you understand my elation?!

The third hugely exciting experience was sitting in my first lecture and contributing to a discussion of global viewpoints and perspectives. However, something I will have to get used to, accept, or get over is my embarrassment when American politics are discussed – which is often. I am outside of the American bubble and am seeing and hearing first hand accounts of the effects of US policies. Not only, in regard to Iraq and Afghanistan, but also in regard to our neglect of other major global issues that are still being ignored. I am ashamed of my embarrassment and wish I could feel more pride, but I feel we’ve been made fools by our foreign policy. However, I know my fellow classmates do not judge me, as I do not judge them. None of us are representatives of our governments worst. I know my Afghan classmate is not a part of the Taliban, but you do have to imagine the elephant in the room when the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are discussed.

The beauty of what my colleagues and I are about to engage is that we are all apart of MPACS to learn from each other, and learn how to transcend differences, histories, biases and move toward mutual understanding. Let the adventure begin – viva!

My Courses:

Semester One
Key Issues in Peace and Conflict Studies
Human Rights: Peace and Justice
Genocide in Global Perspective (Masters of History course)
Cultures of Violence

Winter Semester (July)
Peace Journalism (in London!)

Semester Two
Crisis of Democracy in the Islamic World
Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding
Religion, War, and Peace