By Zoe Jannuzi
Although I wasn’t a boarding student, many weeks I spent more time inside my high school than at my house. More specifically, I camped out in the dance studio. At my arts high school, I spent half of my day in academics and the other half in dance class (not to mention rehearsals). I was an academically successful student, the expectation was that I would go to college, yet I spent the vast majority of my time dancing.
When I got to college, everybody wanted the answer to one question: “What do you want to study?” Enthusiastically I would respond that I was interested in history. Then the follow-up I quickly learned I needed a response for: “What part of history are you most interested in?” Unlike many of my peers, I hadn’t completed summer research, secured an internship, or spent hours reading textbooks. I had chosen history because that was what I most enjoyed in high school. Dancing, something I loved to do had left me in a tricky place. The one thing I had devoted thousands of hours to, was the one thing I knew I didn’t want as my career.
This summer is the first summer I haven’t participated in a ballet summer intensive. It’s a summer of a lot of firsts — my first summer as a college student, my first summer I’ve participated in a program related to an academic interest. Maybe most interestingly, my first summer I’ve been interested in academic theory.
I like to think of myself as a very reflective person. Although, I suspect I often take the easy way out. I’m more comfortable reflecting deeply on the less challenging things, while subconsciously avoiding some of my thoughts that might give me more pause. Summer especially is my time for self-reflection on how my character and tendencies may have changed throughout the year. Odds are you’ll find me sitting on the floor in a corner, shoes off, listening to music with my headphones in, staring off into space, just letting the thoughts roll in like the love it or hate it fog here in Monterey.
The “boring,” tediously explained, readings that stop every sentence to ensure they have described the terms in the previous one should have been my first love. After all, what better way for a reflective person to learn about the field, than from a fellow over-thinker? But… like many, I had always found them annoying and over-explained.
This summer, I discovered the problem wasn’t that theory wasn’t my cup of tea; it was that I had been exploring the wrong theory. Completing the background readings for this course was an activity which I assumed would consist of a few mind-numbing hours, the monotony broken only by my excitement at a new set of highlighters. Instead, I found Galtung, Burton, and Ball. All of a sudden, (though they did take forever to get through) the explanations that had previously seemed over the top, were fascinating. After I had read so much Galtung, I began to find the other readings, ones which I may have loved in the past, begin to fall short. They were easier to get through, but my standards had increased. I was no longer convinced simply with flowery language. I wanted each writer to go more in-depth, back to the roots of what they were explaining.
I do, and probably always will love reflecting on things. But the readings and all of the theory/ lecture heavy sessions with Kevin Avruch have put me in full nerd mode. Now not only do I love the field of peacebuilding in theory, but I like the theory of peacebuilding. I’m not sure I feel ready to go out in the field and build peace (will I ever truly feel ready??), but I am at least prepared to answer the question my new college friends posed: I am interested in peacebuilding.