Posts Tagged Peacebuilders

In Transition

Costa Rica1 683

Monteverde, Costa Rica


I think I am one of the last Peacebuilder Fellows to arrive to their country, so I have a bit more time before I head off to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I am thankful for my extra time as I just graduated from my Masters Program in Costa Rica on Friday and need to wrap up my life here before my next exciting adventure. I am writing this first blog of many in Monteverde, Costa Rica as the sun sets over a beautiful jungle-mountain landscape; fitting way to spend one of my last nights here. I am here with my husband and my mom who flew down for my graduation. It is one of the last short trips I will take in this country I have called home for a year now. In a week and a half I will journey home to Texas to drop off some things and then make the long trip to Addis Ababa.


These transition days are always hard for me. I always try to live in the present and enjoy the people and things around me, but when big life changes happen like this my mind is already in the next place. I have spent every free moment doing the necessary tasks for the fellowship and looking up life and culture in Addis Ababa. I am excited about the connections I have made there already through my friends and through my now alma mater. Having people waiting to show you around and give you the lay of the land in a new city always puts me at ease and is always a fun thing. Some of these contacts I have been meeting work with water issues and more general environmental issues. I can’t wait to pick their brains and find out more about the water conflict Phoenix and I will be looking at. Water issues are so important in Ethiopia, as they are everywhere, and I am anticipating learning a lot this summer. I am especially looking forward to the conversations we will have with people. I think this fellowship is a unique experience in which we are encouraged to meet lots of people and hear stories of what is happening around this conflict.


I suppose my year at UPeace has been a type of preparation for the work I will be doing with Center for Conflict Studies and the Peacebuilders Fellowship. This year for me has been about Peace and Conflict studies, but within that I have learned the value of individuals who bring about peace in their own lives and in their community. Throughout this year I have been amazed at the capacity we humans have in being able to do great things, even (or maybe especially) in conflict zones. In my classes we heard story after story about individuals who despite their hardships and despite the violence around them, organized to make a change. My brilliant professor, Victoria Fontan, is on a mission to ‘decolonize’ peace. She spent the year telling the school, and especially my program (International Peace Studies- made up of 17 beautiful students from 14 very different countries), that this ‘decolonizing’ peace is about “making the invisible visible and transcending the universalism of liberal peace” . So often we think that places experiencing conflict are filled with victims and perpetrators and these places need to be saved. This year has been about looking at the solutions that are coming from the ground and amplifying those solutions and those people, recognizing that there are complexities to solutions which means there can never be a cookie cutter answer.


After a year of learning all this I am so lucky to be working with an organization whose mission is to give a voice to the voiceless by telling the stories of people in a conflict. In Ethiopia, I will be listening to the voiceless and finding the invisible. I hope that in bringing their stories to you we can all become more aware of the specific conflict Phoenix and I will be looking at, but also more aware of those activists, teachers, religious workers, organizers, mothers and fathers out there who are tirelessly working for a better life, community and world.

I am honored to be apart of this first year in the fellowship’s history, and I am very much looking forward to what this adventure has in store for Phoenix and I in Ethiopia, as well as for rest of the teams spread out around the world. With a little over two weeks away, I haven’t experienced too much stress yet (I am sure it is coming). For now I am just trying to enjoy Costa Rica and life here, but I am also very excited about my time in Ethiopia. I am looking forward to learning more about water and the country’s history and culture, eating injera, and hearing lots and lots of stories!


Twitter: @KatiePetitt


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