“After spending the last three years at George Fox University, I have decided that peacemaking is my full-time career calling.”
JUNIOR - INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDIES
After spending the last three years at George Fox University, I have decided that peacemaking is my full-time career calling. For this reason, I have partnered with my academic advisor to create an interdisciplinary major that combines my personal skill sets and the skill sets needed to effectively “tackle” the issue of injustice and promote peacemaking in my local community and the global community. For this major, I am currently studying ministry, music and business, and each discipline plays an important role for peacemaking.
Growing up in an evangelical Christian home with a patriotic-militarist grandfather gave me a deluded understanding of peace and Christ’s message of pacifism. I grew up hearing President Roosevelt’s “Speak softly and carry a big stick” approach to peace and conflict resolution, which only further confused my thinking. However, this all began to change as I began to take my faith seriously. I started reading the Bible and was amazed to learn that Christ asks us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44).
We are no longer living in a world separated by months of travel. We have a unique opportunity to be anywhere in the world in just a day’s journey. The result of this fact is an increase in our shared responsibility for the global community. As the body of Christ, we carry an even greater burden for the oppressed, regardless of our proximity to them. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are no longer “American Christians,” whose burden is for our own citizens. We are one body in Christ, whose health is contingent upon the whole.
“The only question is how intentional and aware we are of our words and actions.”
JUNIOR - INTERNATIONAL STUDIES
I grew up in Serbia – Yugoslavia at that time. This country, although it has many beautiful and inspiring traits, has, unfortunately, come to be known by its devastating years of wars, which have been numerous. After many years of violence, another war broke out on March 23, 1999. This time, it was different. There was only one side in this war, and it was the attacking side. NATO bombs were being dropped all over Serbia for 78 days as we were praying for both peace and justice. Civilian objects weren’t spared of bombs, including Orthodox churches, a TV station, bridges and trains. I kept hearing the words “peaceful intervention,” which had no connection to the reality we were experiencing. I later started understanding that these words were never meant for us. We knew what was going on. These words were for a different audience – the audience that needed their passive ignorance to be justified.
My education and my faith have both been crucial in shaping my commitment to work for peace and justice. As I think of these two very broad and abstract terms, I often remember these very strong words by Martin Luther King, Jr.: “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”
One of the very reasons why my passion for peace and justice grew so strong was because I understood at one point that there was no neutrality. We are always on one side or the other. The only question is how intentional and aware we are of our words and actions.
“During my time in India I was able to learn from several organizations that are using business skills to provide sustainable job opportunities to empower individuals bringing about justice in their own communities.”
JUNIOR - GLOBAL BUSINESS
It has been quite an exciting adventure tracking how God’s hand has been at work in my life, growing me to become more and more passionate about business while simultaneously revealing the evident connections that business has to my heart for social justice as well. People may think business is just all about the money, but as my finance textbook says, “There is more to life than money, but it often takes money to do good things.”
This past semester, I had the opportunity to study abroad in India as a part of the global studies program offered at George Fox. During my time in India I was able to learn from several organizations that are using business skills to provide sustainable job opportunities to empower individuals bringing about justice in their own communities. These business models can be used to bring about more equal economic opportunities in the world. One business that really stood out to me during our travels in Kolkata allowed me to sit with women as they stitched quilts from recycled saris and shared how the business Sari Bari gave them new opportunities to make a living for their families.
My future career plans, hopes and dreams are to work with American multi-national corporations (MNCs) and to help them realize their responsibilities as a company to care about social justice issues in the world. MNCs have a lot of power and influence and I believe have the capacity to make a positive difference in our globalizing world.
“I hope to listen to the murmuring in my own soul,
to push my hesitations aside and give these whispers
JUNIOR - POLITICS
It is contradictory, but we at time herald those who rebel against social expectations. “How we long to be brave like them,” we tell one another. When a documentary is finished or the sermon concluded, however, we quickly slip back into our places. We are not Mother Teresa or Martin Luther King, Jr. We are humans; they are legends. In truth, the only difference between these moral pioneers and us is that they resisted the temptation of silence and inaction. I hope to listen to the murmuring in my own soul, to push my hesitations aside and give these whispers full voice.
To be honest, grappling injustice and advocating peace frightens me. But that is why I have to do it. The more I experience the world, the more I realize that following Christ is not about securing my own comfort. Situations or injustice make me uneasy, perhaps because of what they may reveal about my own heart.
I do not have a master plan for reconciling the world in absolute peace and justice. I am an optimist, not an utopist. The few who refuse to appease society by suppressing their consciences – individuals like Elizabeth Packard – change our notions of justice. If successful, they alter social thought and justice is gained – women’s suffrage, the end of apartheid, and the treatment of the disabled. I do not have visions of becoming a figure of such grandeur, but I yearn to reconcile differences. I want us to learn the names and stories of our opponents and our counterparts. We can neither treat each other fairly nor enjoy peace unless we live in equality. We cannot live in equality unless we realize the tangible humanity of each other. This is the work I choose to pursue.
“Through God’s guidance and grace, there is always peace to be found at whatever place in life we find ourselves.”
JUNIOR - BIOLOGY
One day on the radio a few months ago, I heard the radio talk show host talk about how, in an interview, Brad Pitt had been asked if he considered himself “happy.” Brad Pitt responded with something along the lines that he found happiness to be overrated because, in life, there is a time for everything – a time for happiness, for sadness, and for areas in between. He said that he found it more adequate to seek peace in his life and where he was at, rather than seek happiness. I’ll admit I wasn’t expecting such a wise comment from a movie star, but what he said really spoke to me and made a lot of sense. So with that, whether we are seeking peace with ourselves, peace with others, peace within a larger community, or peace within a situation, there is always peace to work toward – and through God’s guidance and grace, there is always peace to be found at whatever place in life we find ourselves.
My career aspiration is to be a medical doctor, but more specifically, a dermatologist. Often times, skin problems or skin diseases are the most detrimental to a person because they are on the outside for everyone else to see. Particularly, as a dermatologist, I hope to help individuals find peace with themselves and their bodies by not only healing their skin, but also by helping to heal their self-confidence. I want people to be at peace with who they are and not feel like they are less of a person because of an illness or a disease.
As a Quaker, I’m familiar with the saying, “All truth is God’s truth,” and I think Brad Pitt’s words of seeking peace with where we are at in life speak God’s truth. I think God’s hope for us all is to achieve a life apart from conflict and to realize that he is the doorway to finding that peace.
“I am convinced that wherever the Lord leads me, it will be one with opportunities to work justly for peace and peaceably
SENIOR - ECONOMICS AND POLITICAL SCIENCE
“In the little world in which children have their existence,” says Pip from Charles Dickens’ celebrated novel Great Expectations, “there is nothing so finely perceived and finely felt than injustice.” Kofi Annan, the seventh secretary general of the United Nations, echoes a similar sentiment as he delivers a lecture upon receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001. He begins the lecture by painting a hypothetical picture of a girl being born in Afghanistan. Her mother will hold her and feed her, comfort her and care for her just like any mother would. “In these most basic acts of human nature,” Annan says, “humanity knows no division.” Then he goes on to deconstruct the picture. “But to be born a girl in today’s Afghanistan is to begin life centuries away from prosperity that one small part of humanity has achieved. It is to live under conditions that many of us in this hall would consider inhumane … Ladies and gentlemen, we have entered the third millennium through a gate of fire.” Annan, a much-admired world statesman, was calling the world to respond – not just in reaction to the acts of terror, but toward injustice everywhere, ultimately making the world a safer place for the newborns the world over.
I study economics because I am interested in the well-being of the commons. I believe that if we can envision a world where everyone’s material needs are met, we would have made a large step in the direction of eradicating unnecessary conflict and war. Still, justice means so much more than material necessity; therefore, I study political science to help me understand the broader arena of human interaction. Being from Malaysia, I want to acquire the requisite skills to be able to contribute to the economic planning and development of my country. Malaysia is in a place in its history that requires tremendous political structural reform. I want to be a part of this movement and bring good and meaningful change to the state of my union.
I believe nothing we do fails to have a broader, more far-reaching impact on the rest of the world, and it is not until we have eliminated hate and foster neighborly love that we can truly come together to form a global community that will be in the interest of the entire human community.
Kofi Annan ends his Nobel lecture with an impassioned challenge. He asks the audience to recall his reference to the girl born in Afghanistan at the beginning of his speech. “Remember this girl,” says Annan, “and then our larger aims – to fight poverty, prevent conflict, or cure disease – will not seem distant, or impossible. Indeed, those aims will seem very near, and very achievable – as they should. Because beneath the surface of state and nations, ideas and language, lies the fact of individual human begins in need.”
I am convinced that wherever the Lord leads me, it will be one with opportunities to work justly for peace and peaceably for justice.
“Jesus lived a life of peace. Living a life of peace and justice means refraining from unnecessary strife or conflict, but it also means standing up in the face of injustice. Peace and justice are not passive, but active.”
JUNIOR - INTERNATIONAL STUDIES
What is peace? I have grown up with a firm belief in the power of peace and a desire to take action in order to foster peace in the midst of injustice. As my ideas about peace have developed over the years, so too has my desire to dedicate my life to fostering peace.
For me, peace takes many forms. It can mean being connected with creation; either while on a hike, or working in the dirt to grow food to eat. Peace can be considered a lack of fear, anxiety, strife, or conflict. Peace is the full and consuming presence of Christ in our midst. Peace and justice go hand in hand. One cannot exist without the other. Both are significant between individuals, groups of people, between nations, the Creator and the created, and between humans and creation. Jesus lived a life of peace. Living a life of peace and justice means refraining from unnecessary strife or conflict, but it also means standing up in the face of injustice. Peace and justice are not passive, but active. When Jesus lived on Earth, he did not sit comfortably and wait for the brokenhearted, lowly, and sick to come to him; he actively sought them out. As Jesus’ followers, we are called to do the same.
This past year I have had the opportunity to help lead a group on campus called Quare Verum (which means “seeking truth” in Latin). We have weekly conversations about social, religious and environmental issues that are not commonly discussed in the classroom. During one conversation we had about poverty-alleviation methods, a guest speaker mentioned how he thinks one of the most profound things we can do is come together to share soup and bread and have a conversation. In a society of busyness, stress and speed, his statement is profound in itself. It is in those moments of slowing down, listening to others, and sharing ideas that the seeds of peace and justice are planted.
Even something as simple as a small child feeling loved, supported and inspired in an educational setting is an example of a seed of peace being planted. Peace and justice come in all forms and are lived out differently by each individual. Many strides toward peace and justice have been made in the past and are continuing to be made today. Having the ability to participate in this ongoing work is humbling. Although participation does not necessarily mean the end of all wars, each step forward is one more glimpse of the kingdom of God here on Earth.
“I have dedicated my life to service because it was the service of others that led
me to finding peace in my
SENIOR - SOCIAL WORK
Studying social work and sociology, it is clear that the longing for peace and justice are central to both my education and career. As a future social worker, I eagerly anticipate being the hands and feet of Jesus Christ through helping others with many different needs around the world. Though not entirely certain of what specified vocation I will choose, I believe it will accompany my avocation and love for different cultures along with group, play and wilderness therapy. I have enjoyed working with children for more than seven years and the elderly population for five. Service is one of my strengths that helps build relationships and brings about tangible change. Similar to others I have known with a united heart and mind, I have dedicated my life to service because it was the service of others that led me to finding peace in my own life.
The more I discover about others, the more I discover who it is that I am becoming. I never thought I would make a strong leader, but it seems that I am continuously taking leadership roles in whatever I do. I love people who are different than I am, who can inspire, challenge, and evoke me to becoming a better person.
As I explore the field of social work and contemplate working with those who are suffering and are labeled society’s outcasts, I find the disabled, elderly, criminal, youth and homeless among victims of greed, injustice and hatred. It is overwhelming and can be completely consuming without the hope and strength that I have been so fortunate to find.
“I was spurred to be a part of a generation wanting to shift the paradigm of how injustice is brought out into the light.”
SENIOR - CINEMA AND MEDIA COMMUNICATION
In 2010, I did what many young frustrated college students think about doing in their college career – taking time off of school. This decision literally reshaped my worldview and my vocation for my life. From 2010 to 2012, I worked for a nonprofit called Invisible Children. I traveled across the country speaking to more than 67,000 people at universities, high schools and places of worship about the atrocities a rebel group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has been committing for 26 years throughout east Africa.
I was spurred to use my voice to demand change in the world. I was spurred to be a part of a generation wanting to shift the paradigm of how injustice is brought out into the light. And so, for the next two and a half years, I gave all that I had to advocate for peace and justice. I have had the privilege of meeting and talking to leaders of the International Criminal Court, the United Nations, the European Union and the United States government about the issues of the LRA and global justice. Over the course of my time at Invisible Children, I realized that stopping injustice anywhere is the responsibility of humanity everywhere.
I can now clearly see the vocation that God has called me to. I want to continue to learn and grow and be educated so that I may become a better citizen of this world. I want to continue to live a life that demands explanation and use my voice for those who can’t. I recognize that my choices are bound up in a global exchange and therefore I will respond and fight with reason, empathy, and action for those who are victims of injustices until my last breaths on this earth.