By: Marsha Thomas
The seniors have received those well-earned diplomas, the undergrads have returned home for a few months, and the grounds crew still ensures campus is well manicured….the campus is leafy green and quiet. Harrisonburg’s Eastern Mennonite University in on summer break…or is it?!
How many of us Valley residents realize, during every May and June, this campus serves as a welcome respite for those around the globe whose homeland is in the midst of war or whose often overwhelming job is teaching alternatives to violence in areas of the world rampant with conflict?
EMU’s Summer Peacebuilding Institute has recently been in full swing and host to more than 200 people from over 30 countries, who are here in Harrisonburg honing their skills and learning new peacebuilding practices. This yearly program, facilitated each spring by the university’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, offers intensive training in peacebuilding and conflict transformation. Often participants come from conflicted regions throughout the world as well as from here in the US. The training they receive provides invaluable skills for these community workers as well as for the Center’s graduate students pursuing master’s degrees. The institute offers all participants a link to various international and national conflict situations and the “grassroots” workers, who are negotiating these tough realities.
Stay tuned to our blog later this week to learn about three of the SPI participants I chatted with when I went to EMU to learn about the Summer Peacebuilding Institute program.