Late Night Snacks

The first week of the program has  come to an end, leaving us with two more weeks of exciting and challenging learning to go. The intensive schedule of the program did  in all honesty make this weekend more than welcome – especially given all of the wonderful activities Monterey has to offer. My numerous encounters with various aquatic animals and wonderful outdoor experiences have, however, also allowed  me to finally step back and truly reflect on my experience.

So, allow me to share a few late night thoughts.

Every single day of the program has offered a variety of  engaging lectures and site visits that have expanded my spectrum of what I previously considered the field of peacebuilding. Having a rather long-term experience with international humanitarian law and human rights has definitely fostered a tendency for me to almost automatically focus on the  macro level perspective of peacebuilding and the rather narrow field of international justice.  However, our visits to Salinas police station and Earthbound farms, combined with lectures ranging from topics like nuclear weapons to the role of neoliberalism have consequently left me with some rather juicy food for thought. The variety has made me realize what a multifaceted field peacebuilding really is, and that an incredible range of individuals, whether they know it or not, are involved in peacebuilding in one way or another. I do not think it is unreasonable to say that every individual in a society, either directly or indirectly, is involved in peacebuilding making it an impressively inclusive field of work.

However, this is also what makes it so incredibly complex and challenging. Peacebuilding is a process in which all aspects of society, from the micro to the macro level, truly matters, and it has to be an ongoing process even in the most peaceful of societies. Peacebuilding never stops. One can not only focus on the role of institutions like the police or judicial system, because the capacity to bring about true peace in a society also has to be reflected in our broader societal structures – involving fields such as economics, city planning, as well as education. We therefore have to make peace a central objective in all aspects of society and the interaction between them.

This fairly simple, yet critical, reminder is consequently something I am taking with me as the program enter its second week.