As a student, I always try and find ways to connect what I’m learning in class to “the real world.” So, when I received a job description for the position of Peace and Justice Director at Brethren Woods camp in Keezletown, Virginia, I realized that this was not a job I could turn down.
While I knew that I wanted to explore peace education, I was afraid that I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, going to an area of a country that I know carries a wide range of perspectives on peace and justice.
Despite my hesitation, I decided to go for it. I had the opportunity to create a peace education curriculum, where I taught conflict resolution skills, and explored what the Bible says about peace.
We read stories, played co-operative games, and asked questions about why we act with violence. We made peace quilts and brainstormed how we can become peacebuilders in our own communities.
I quickly realized that I would not be able to do what I did without all of my CMU experience.
The hands-on learning that I experienced in my classes taught me how to engage different learning styles and the content of classes gave me ideas for different topics I could teach.
Over the course of the summer, I worked with campers to create a Peace Path. Each camper had a stone which they painted with one step they could take to make the world more peaceful, their stepping stone for peace.
Their answers ranged from smiles and friendship, to tolerance and generosity. After the stones were painted, each camper laid their stone on the path with a recognition that peace is not the responsibility of one person, but is dependant on many people working together.
These stones now line a path, where there is a prayer for peace in the world and in our communities.
In light of recent events in Charlottesville, which is an hour away from the camp I worked at, I am hopeful that our world is not stuck in pain and violence.
Throughout the summer, campers asked me about the situation in Charlottesville, and questioned why people respond to hate with more hate. These young voices shared their hope that people with differences would have conversations and recognize their common humanity.
I feel honoured to have walked with these children as they have learned a language of peace and I am hopeful that they will become agents of positive change in their communities.