This blog isn’t about a particular day or session, but I guess more of my feelings of what this whole week was like for me. Decompressing this entire program as a week-long event on top of the individual sessions or days that might need it. This entire week I have been questioning my place in the Summer Peace building Program – not because I do not understand the material, nor because of any personal or professional incompetence, but because I don’t see myself reflected in what we’ve done this past week. With the first week of the Peace building Program out of the way, it has given me some time to reflect on my interests and motivations and how they merge or diverge from the program so far. Each day I come into this program with different expectations but similar questions. Each session I reflect on how this topic or that aspect of peace building can really benefit my interests in career, and maybe identify what I could contribute to peace building as a practice and a study. The more that I explore these questions and thoughts the more I leave the day unanswered. And as I contemplated on it again this weekend, I realized that a part of my insecurity and lack of direction in peace building might reflect my lack of specificity in terms of choosing a career path.
I don’t really know what I want to do when I graduate. It’s a question that I have been able to evade by being relatively vague,”I want to work in indigenous Oceania development/I want to help decolonize Guahan”, but the closer I get to graduation, the more I hear the question, and the more I don’t have an answer to give back. I am really passionate about a lot of things, especially within the realms of development and political science, and peace building. I am extremely passionate about decolonization as a study and practice, a field that I would argue ties in quite well to issues regarding peace building but some seem to argue against. I am also extremely passionate about my culture and my people, and I know that I want to do something that benefits us as a people and moves us forward in a healthy and powerful way. The thing is, I don’t know what that looks like as a career. To me, those passions are so niche, so specific to a region and an archipelago that working for an organization might not recognize those realms of interest as vital or even fitting within their scope. My interests involve dabbling so many different social sciences that choosing one and committing to it for what seems my immediate future seems so definite, and I’m afraid to commit to one that might not entirely pan out.
Personally, I am interested in decolonizing Guahan, my island, and CHamorus, my people, and if possible Oceania as well. That involves politics, history, education, economics, culture, trauma healing, psychology, even hard sciences in agriculture and natural biology, and so many more. And while I see how peace building touches on aspects of all these fields, I can’t seem to see myself in a space that can do that, or at least get paid for it. It’s a long-term process and requires understanding how multiple systems and fields intersect and impress upon each other. My case doesn’t involve violent conflict* (*despite violence being understood in a broad many ways), which is primarily what our entire week has dealt with exploring, because naturally so it’s what the majority of organizations are existing and funding to address.
The topics we have been going over are so fascinating and so interesting and so relevant to the conversation around decolonization. I see so much of Guahan reflected in peace building that I have no doubt that I’ve learned and benefited from this week. I just don’t see too much of peace building (from the perspectives that we’ve been exploring) in Guahan. Which doesn’t mean that peace building isn’t relevant, nor isn’t necessary on the island, but that I need to put the onus on me to make my studies reflect my passion. If I want to see more of peace building reflected in Guahan, I need to explore more about what I want to do to help it get there. I need to find that connection and bring it closer to the surface, explore the tensions, and maybe if I can figure out my own personal blocks, I can overcome the block I’m having in this program.