Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Peace Fellowship

          One of the best parts of this year has been my strong involvment in Peace Fellowship, EMU's peace club on campus. As Co-President, I have had the opportunity to plan, organize, and attend some really awesome activities, events, and conferences. Last semester this included events about Congo, gun control, and traveling to Georgia for the annual SOA Protest. This semester we have have had a large event with Jean Robert Cadet, a former Haitian slave come share, smaller meetings with my friend Jean Claude Nkundwa, a student at the Center of Justice and Peacebuilding from Burundi, who has an amazing story, and another student Evan Knappenberger who served with the US military in Iraq, but is now actively involved with the peace movement in Virginia. All have been extremely informational and inspiring to hear work of peace happening around the world!
          I have also been gone the past three weekends attending peace events. Two and half weeks ago was the annual Intercollegiate Peace Fellowship Conference held at Bluffton University. Nine students from EMU went to Ohio for the weekend to attend the conference with the theme of Spirituality and Shalom. It was a great conference with some of my favorite people from EMU! One highlight was presenting a workshop on the movement my friend Josh and I begun to make EMU "conflict-free." I presented with my friends Rachel and Seth and afterward three colleges expressed strong interest in starting campaigns on their own campuses. I also enjoyed being home for a little bit (since I do live only 10 minutes from Bluffton) and spending time with my Co-President (the beautiful and talented Krista Nyce) outside of planning for Peace Fellowship events.
          On Sunday February 17, my roommate Ruth and I, along with 50 other EMU students traveled to Washington D.C. for the Rally on Climate Change. Over 35,000 people showed up for the rally to send a message to President Obama that the Keystone Pipeline should not be built. This turned out to be the largest climate rally ever! Although it was freezing cold, we had a great time listening to speakers, then marching around the White House.
          Finally, this last weekend I drove up to Philadelphia with five other EMU students and one alumni to attend The Justice Conference. We attended five pre-conference break-out workshops and nine main conference sessions, all in two days! It was fairly intensive and our group had mixed feelings about the conference itself, but overall I had a really great time with really fantastic people. I really appreciated having the opportunity to think more deeply about my own faith and committment to justice issues. The conference was really evangelical, which honestly turned me off at first. However, as the conference went on, I found myself appreciating the people there who were using their evangelical faith to fight for justice in the world. I might not agree with all of their theology, but it was nice to know that God can use the church to still work for change in the world today. As I have been feeling somewhat agnostic lately, it was ood to hear of a working God and the validity that religion can play in one's life.
          As you can probably tell, I could write a whole lot more on all of these events I attended. I do have notes and wrote about the conference in Bluffton and in Philly in the school newspaper if anyone is interested to hear more. But for now, I just want to say how thankful that I have had the opportunity to not just be inspired to be a peace and justice maker in today's world, but also to have the chance to build deep relationships with other members of Peace Fellowship. If any of you read this, know that I love you so much and really hate that I am leaving in just a couple of months! Peace Fellowship has meant so much to me, especially this last year, and it is going to be really hard to graduate and move on.

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