I can pinpoint the exact moment that I became interested in peace building in relation to privilege and isolation. I grew up in Kingston, Jamaica (a beautiful country, but one also rife with crime and corruption) for most of my life and lived in Downtown Kingston, which, other than the financial district, was known to be very dangerous. Few of the the kids I went to school with were allowed to visit me, and most people in the safer parts of Jamaica were shocked to hear where my family and I lived. In 2010, there was an incursion into a neighborhood in Downtown Kingston (Tivoli Gardens) for the extradition of a famed drug lord. The poorer neighborhoods of Downtown Kingston were under siege by the National Guard: children were searched for guns on their way to school, families were thrown out of their homes so that soldiers could occupy their houses, and many were injured or killed during the week of the incursion. The entire city was in a state of emergency, and for once, those who I went to school with felt the smallest inkling of what it meant to live in a place of civil unrest and violence, and from my bubble in downtown Kingston I did too. It was during this incursion that I realized that peace in my country, or even peace globally was so far from being achieved when isolated from the most basic human emotions of empathy and generosity. It was not until the most privileged of Jamaica’s livelihoods were threatened, that there was an urge for something to be done about the civil unrest, and even at that point the system was irreversible.

A few years later, I attended UWC in New Mexico, for my last two years of high school where the mission statement was to “make education a force to united peoples, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future”. The idea of education as a core structure in peacebuilding has always been, in my opinion, one of the most important factors in the process. It made me think about the children in Tivoli Gardens whose schools were destroyed in the incursion and whose access to what basic education they had was gone. It also made me think about the difference education played in this children’s lives, but also in encouraging the engagement and continuation of the peacebuilding process.

During SPP, I hope to learn further how education can be used universally, without class bias, to promote ideas of peace and erase the borders that privilege and distance can wedge in the peacebuilding process. I also hope to learn more about the theoretical aspects of peacebuilding and how they can be applied practically in different areas where factors preventing peace are constantly changing. I hope that with the experience from this program  I will be able to more wholly understand what factors are most important in the peacebuilding process, so that I can work with those who want peace , and also learn how to maintain that peace long term.