Course Participants

Jeanine Willig

Hi! My name is me and a donkeyJeanine, I’m a first year, second semester graduate student at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. I am studying International Policy making and I am participating in the Center for Conflict Studies Conflict Resolution Certificate. I am from a small town in Sonoma County Ca, I got my B.S. degree from Humboldt State University in Arcata Ca., where I studied Cellular/Molecular Biology. After spending three years working in a laboratory it was time to go outside. I joined Peace Corps, Burkina Faso where I was an education volunteer for two years where I found my passion for youth programs.

I decided to study conflict because it is everywhere, you don’t have to travel to Africa to find it. I am especially passionate about youth programs and services because I see the amount of difference a dedicated individual can make in a young person’s life. I currently teach a conflict resolution class in Salinas at a school that serves adolescents  who have been kicked out of their high schools for varying reasons. I am passionate about using my education and knowledge to make this a better world for those most vulnerable. During this trip to Los Angeles I hope to learn more about homelessness, violence and the organisations that make it their jobs to help their clients who cannot pay for their services. I hope to bring more awareness to the Middlebury Institute about the work being done in our own back yards, to bring a more domestic focus to our school. I am looking forward to meeting the people who, everyday, do their best work for those in need.


Judie Henderson

DSCN0154 I’m Judie.. a MIIS scholar (2016) studying international policy and conflict resolution management. Before heading to Monterey as a student, I graduated from University of Nevada, Reno with a degree in General Studies: Multiculturalism & Diversity with a Social Work Perspective. The journey to a college education was filled with a lifetime of experiences in emergency medicine as an EMT with paramedic and wildland fire training. Never one to take the easy route, I worked for non-profit agencies providing specialized services to people with disabilities, chaired a Board with local city government, and created a grass roots organization for the sole purpose of reuniting a mother with her abducted daughter.

In between those tasks, I became the parent of two beautiful children, adopted a couple of rabbits, and bought a condo. The variety of my life’s experiences began at birth because I was raised in a home with my Irish father and mother of German-descent. Nothing was ever viewed from just one perspective and conflict raged at all corners. This led me towards a nomadic lifestyle filled with unique opportunities from which I rarely shied.

A bit wiser today, I contemplate options which give my daughter the stability she needs as a teen. I succeed because of the role models I’ve found and the positive relationships I’ve cultivated. I look forward to using these skills while learning more about development in a city’s core and the effect it has on the ‘homeless’ population in LA’s Skid Row.

 Michael Lui

P1010262Hello! My name is Michael Lui and I am a fourth and final semester MIIS graduate student in the International Policy Studies: Human Security and Development program. I am also pursuing a certificate in Conflict Resolution, which is my field of interest. My path in the conflict resolution field began at San Diego State University, where I studied International Security and Conflict Resolution and minored in French. Observing and experiencing the consequences of conflict in my personal life due to my own and people’s inability to effectively manage, resolve, or transform conflict impassioned me to explore conflict. Post-SDSU and after working for two years, I attended MIIS where I am continuing my pursuit of understanding conflict and learning how to effectively approach it. MIIS has provided me opportunities to work with “at-risk” youth; reintegration organizations; law enforcement; public elementary, middle, and high schools; and work abroad in Cameroon.

Upon hearing of this field course in downtown Los Angeles, I wished to be a part of the research team. I hope to learn more about reintegration programs and how they support and empower ex-offenders to resume life in society. Additionally, I am eager to work with organizations that aid and assist Skid Row’s homeless community to understand the causes of homelessness and mental illness, and understand the approaches/responses to these issues. I have very limited exposure to the aforementioned topics and trust that I will be challenged during this week-long course.

Katya Gamolsky

DSC01693 copyHi! I am Katya, a second semester student of the accelerated joint BA/MA program at the Middleburg Institute of International Studies (MIIS). As a native Russian speaker, the emphasis on language and cultural competency studies at MIIS is what originally drew me here. In my first semester I took the Introduction to Conflict Resolution with Dr. Pushpa Iyer, and really took to the theories discussed and the style of teaching. The course also included a simulation on high level negotiations, which was very difficult but also my favorite part.

I also work as a Graduate Assistant for Immersive Learning Programs, which deals directly with programs such as this one, that MIIS produces so that students can get credit outside of the classroom, working directly with and in the environment that they study. Dr. Iyer is known for leading intense, experience-rich, and unusual programs. Up to now, Dr. Iyer has only travelled internationally with her students, and this is her first trip domestically. So here I am, and very excited.

A little about myself: I am a first generation Russian American, and was born here, in the states, soon after my parents arrived here as political refugees from the Soviet Union. Intent on preserving the Russian culture and language, my parents created a mini Russia in our home, with Russian books, movies, and food – and not a word of English. I learned English I grade school, and as a result my identity is split in ways I am not yet fully aware of. Dr. Iyer emphasizes the importance of introspection and honesty with oneself, especially when researching, facilitating, mediating, and so on. To ask someone to open up to you, one must be open and comfortable themselves. This is another aspect I am really looking forward to.

This trip will focus on the juxtaposition that naturally resides in Los Angeles, the poor alongside the rich, the haves and the have-nots. We have a very full schedule and I am chomping at the bit to go!

April Danyluk

profile picAloha –  I am a second semester student currently pursuing a dual masters degree in International Education Management and Public Administration at MIIS.  As a military child, and now as a military spouse, I have moved on average every three years throughout my life.  I have lived in big cities, small towns, and in countries abroad.  Nevertheless, my family is from Virginia and whenever I return home and everyone calls me “darlin’,” I cannot deny my southern roots.  I received my B.A. from New College, the honors college of Florida, in Biology, Psychology, and Theater.  After graduation I spent several months volunteering as an English teacher in Nepal.  Later, I returned to the U.S. and spent an intensive year studying at the Clown Conservatory in San Francisco, CA where I received a rubber chicken (no joke).  Since then I have worked in the field of education and it is a cause I remain passionate about.  I have taught in after-school settings as well as in the classroom.  I have taught theater, circus arts and outdoor education.  I also worked several years as a program coordinator for 4-H designing curriculum, establishing community partnerships, and recruiting students and volunteers.  Most recently I lived in Seoul, South Korea where I taught both high school Biology as well as English to college students and businessmen.

My experience in Dr. Iyer’s Intro to Conflict Resolution class last semester sparked my desire to continue exploring the field of conflict transformation.  I am especially interested in the intersections between education, performance, and peace building.  The trip to Los Angeles is particularly appealing to me because the international focus at MIIS tends to neglect the local challenges of conflict and poverty happening here in America, in our own backyard.  Los Angeles is an iconic and culturally diverse city that I have limited first hand knowledge about.  I am extremely excited to learn from the wide array of social change organizations and community led initiatives that are transforming the landscape of LA on a daily basis.  These are the positive forces of change that we rarely hear about in the news, but which deserve more widespread exposure and consideration.


Rohan Thomas John

Hey! My name is Rohan Thomas John aCrossed Legsnd I am from Bangalore, India. I am currently studying Non-Proliferation and Terrorism Studies with the Conflict Resolution Certificate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, and set to graduate in May 2015. I moved to the U.S in 2009 at the age of 18 to pursue my undergraduate degree in Political Science and International Relations at Minnesota State University Moorhead.

My interests are primarily in Non Proliferation of nuclear weapons but my education in the Conflict Resolution field has given me a new “lens” to look at a subject I believed to know well. The Certificate and the course have been very helpful in progressing my education past my field and help me see the conflict and issues that are sometimes underlying and often just not noticed. My interests include theatre, womens rights and finding a viable situation for the wealth discrepancy not just in this country but throughout the world. The Los Angeles Trip for me is an opportunity to look into issues which I am passionate about but unfortunately cannot study as in depth as I would like. This trip offers me the chance to delve deeper into the nuances of these issues and hopefully will help me understand them and hopefully share the stories I hear and see.