Looking up at the full moon in the sky tonight reminds me of the penultimate evening of the MIIS summer peace program. This is definitely the right time to write the final blog for the summer peace program. Our final few evenings on Mount Madonna were filled with the unexpected thrill of the perseid meteor shower. After so much time spent in concentration, and contemplation together, it was delightful to just sit back and relax and soak up the show from space. I was able to view the meteors first with our professor, and then later with my fellow students. And even now, I still feel connected to everyone because we are still under the same sky, and the same beautiful full moon tonight.
Tonight may even be the right time to remove the purple string I’ve been wearing since we arrived at Mount Madonna. It was a symbol to the staff that we were their guests: the 2016 “Peacebuilders”, according to the sign outside of our lodge. It was also a symbol of our social identity as a group, since we all had to wear the same simple, cotton, purple string around our wrists. In social identity theory, symbols can both include you in an in-group, and differentiate you from a larger out-group. It is my hope that everything we learned has shown us to try and work past differentiation and separation, for the good of everyone on the planet.
Despite leaving Monterey last weekend, all of the knowledge shared with us over our three week program will stay with me, as will the identity of being part of this group of potential “peacebuilders”. I look forward to using my knowledge in the future, and seeing all my fellow students achieve in the field. I know they all have bright futures ahead, and I’m grateful for the time we had together.
Thank you, Professor Iyer, and all of the guest speakers, who shared their time and experience with us.