During my undergraduate years, I majored in Global Studies with a focus in the humanities, as well as the Chinese language. I knew that I wanted to attend graduate school, and to make use of my passion working in intercultural settings that value unity without uniformity. As I looked at schools across the country for a program that could take me across the world, I felt another of my core values—service to something greater than oneself—needed to be addressed in communities I’d worked with in within Michigan. I chose to commit a year of service with an AmeriCorps program in Detroit allowing me to work as a full-time tutor and mentor in a high school, and then middle/elementary school when I committed to another year. In this role I sought a greater impact by getting to know people in the community and building relationships. I often found myself in the role of preventing, responding to, and attempting to ease tensions that flared up among students. Having a network of relationships and having some context of my students’ lives beyond school was hugely beneficial in my role. This experience, as well as the act of having forgone graduate school for 2 years to feel more connected to my own values, really had an impact on the focus I would then put on my search for graduate programs.
I decided to come to MIIS for a great number of reasons that made it the right fit for me, among them was that there was an opportunity to focus on conflict resolution and social justice. Through the classes I’ve taken on campus in Monterey, as well as my peacebuilding program experience in Gujarat, India, I have gained inspiration to work toward social justice utilizing the lenses of conflict transformation. Viewing conflict as an opportunity to truly transform structures that have led to power imbalances, religious turmoil, or systemic oppression gives me hope when I become engulfed in the news of such structures throughout the world. My hope in taking the Summer Peacebuilding Program is that I deepen my understanding and ability to utilize the theories and tools relevant to the field of conflict resolution and gain a stronger sense of where I can go after MIIS that will allow me to put some of them into practice.