After my year spent in the Outtatown program, I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. All I knew was that I loved hearing peoples’ stories and travelling, and I had a deep desire to make the world a better place.

When I started my first year, I was nervous because I wasn’t sure if I was ready to step back into the academic world or what classes I was going to take. So I decided to take a little bit of everything: international development, science, theology, and peace and conflict studies.

I’ll never forget my first Peace and Conflict Transformation Studies (PACTS) class. I felt as though this program was designed especially for me. It had everything I cared so deeply about: learning how to deal with conflict on a personal and global scale and how to develop healthy relationships and prevent violence.

I’ve never truly enjoyed school; I’ve always struggled with taking notes, memorizing, and writing tests. But I was blown away by the practical and experiential way that PCTS material was taught. Personal stories were shared, group insight and discussions were encouraged, international and local peacebuilders came to speak to us, and there were field trips to hold my attention. I remember more then once we would leave the classroom to do some type of activity, whether that be sitting in a circle to share our thoughts or doing the blanket exercise (a powerful teaching where participants take on the role of indigenous peoples). For the first time in my education, I felt as though I was learning something that I genuinely cared about and I wanted to learn more.

Since then, I have taken many PCTS courses, such as Restorative Justice, Youth Voices and Peace Activism, Peace Psychology, Coaching and Mediation, Art of Peacebuilding and Culture of Violence, and Cultures of Peace.

I have also found it helpful to take a variety of courses as part of my PCTS degree. These have helped to diversify my perspective of peace and justice. Theology courses have encouraged me to look at peace and conflict with a biblical lens, philosophy has challenged me to ask hard questions and seek different angles, and psychology has taught me to consider many different view points when seeking peace.

I’m hoping to do some volunteering and travel this summer, when I can learn how others see peacebuilding in their communities. Next fall, I’ll begin my practicum. I’m considering mediation services or the Stoney Mountain penitentiary, but the options are limitless and I am so excited to see what God has in store.