Mikaela Alexander

Mikaela Alexander
Senior, Christian Ministries major

I am currently in Kigali, Rwanda studying abroad through George Fox with the GoEd Africa program. I have spent a large portion of my academic pursuits attempting to understand the peace strategies adopted by Rwandans after the genocide that devasted their population. To actually be here, talking with survivors, hearing the history from people who actually lived through it... it is an amazingly powerful and life-altering situation. 

I have gained a new, deeper sense of how powerful God's peace is. I had the opportunity to hear the story of a genocide survivor named Seraphina. I met her while she was cleaning the floors of one of the memorials. Her story is long and painful and full of the suffering of the entire popoulation of Rwanda...By at the end of her talk, she said that she had forgiven the men who killed her husband, and brothers and sisters and parents...She reached her hand up in the air, stating that God is good and is powerful and because of Him she can smile and live and forgive. This is reconciliation and reconciliation is freedom and freedom is living with God.

Emily - Grace Cropper

Emily-Grace Cropper
Senior, Sociology major

I am interested in peacemaking because of my love for people and the sanctity of human life. The basis of my belief in peacemaking comes from two trains of thought I learned in the Quaker church: that violence does harm not only to the victim but to the perpetrator, and also, there is that of God in every person. 

I care about people and I hate to see hurt in the world. I think that as Christians especially, we should be striving to live as Christ would, because God created each of us, loves each of us and resides in each of us; therefore, how can we argue that humanity is not sacred and should not be treated with the utmost care and gentleness?

I hope to be involved in peacemaking through a helping career. I have had several experiences in other countries and am currently living in Ecuador. I would like to hold a career that involves working overseas in the form of peacemaking, peacemaking by meeting people's needs and bringing them to peace with Christ.

Samantha Gawf

Samantha Gawf
Senior, Social Work & Philosophy major

My strengths and interests in peacemaking have grown over time and can be seen most clearly in four areas which influence each other: peace with myself, peace with God, peace with the land, peace between individuals and between larger systems of people.

Making peace with other people is something we all engage in at some level every day. I believe that every day life lived with parents, sisters, brothers, friends, professors, and strangers have given me peacemaking strengths in the form of listening, compromising, being fair, and being creative. The peaceable person must be creative because as Wendell Berry shares, they "may find several solutions, the violent person only one". Being peaceful often means looking for the less obvious solution. My  interests in peacemking, justice, and living to see the well-being of others accomplished lead me to the field of social work...Straight from the social work code of ethics are many values I see as necessary for peace, such as the belief in the importance of human relationsihp, and in the dignity and worth of each person. 

Through working with myself to find peace with God, self, land, and others in small and large capacities, my peacemaking skills continue to grow and be utilized everyday. I hope to carry my expereinces and skills in my work with people wherever the social work field may take me.

Whitney Helikson

Whitney Helikson
Senior, Elementary Education major

On January 2nd, 2011 I embarked on a journey of a lifetime to Eastern Africa. Through a cooperating program within George Fox, GoEd Africa, I was able to travel to Rwanda with an academic focus on peace and justice... During my stay, I was able to take classes on the 1994 genocide looking into the events building up to the genocide, the mass killings of 1994, the aftermath, and how Rwanda is now responding to the genocide...Through this class and visiting memorials, I witnessed first hand the side effects of living within a society where peace and justice cannot be found. I spent the remaining three and a half months asking myself how I can help. How can I make a difference? I still am not sure.

Looking back to those four months I can now see the drastic change in the Christian, the teacher and simply the individual I am today. I know that wherever I am in the world, I will always be consumed with this passion to serve the commuity I am within. It is a simple calling really, but it is a duty that has the upmost priority within my life. 

I wish I could say I knew exactly what I was going to do after graduation but I don't. I do know that I have a passion and a drive to serve others. I know that this passion is going to drive my life and I will spend my lifetime serving others in the hopes of bringing peace into one child's life or justice to a whole village.

Jade Ice

Jade Ice
Senior, Nursing major

Experiencing and witnessing the power of God's work in the world through His people has inspired and influenced my plans for the future, shaping who I am am today. I am studying to become a nurse and excited to continue serving in my community and someday abroad.  My passions fuel my desire to serve and take a stand, speaking out for those who cannot. 

God has given me a strong compassion to serve others.  Since I have the opportunity to acquire an education, with gratitude I plan to work diligently to succeed.  This summer I am excited for the opportunity to serve on a medical missions trip to Ethiopia in AIDS hospitals and orphanages.

My passions fuel my desire to serve and take a stand, speaking out for people who cannot. Then what comes next, and is most important is learning and working alongside people to change their circumstances. The solution is not doing everything for others - fixing the surface level problems, but it is getting to the root cause of why people are in the state they are in. As a nurse, I will provide medical care, but it will additionally be my role to learn about the person and how we can work together to overcome their illness, not just fixing the symptoms, but discovering the underlying cuase and improving their lifestyle and well-being.

Andrew Neufeld

Andrew Neufeld
Senior, Engineering major

When I turned 18 it came time to register for national selective service and I chose to register as a conscientious objector. It sent me on a journey in which I had to answer the questions, "If I don't believe that fighting and violence will solve things that I take to be wrong or unequal based on my Christian world view, how do I answer Jesus' call to love my neighbor? How can I call ignoring world hunger, ruthless dictators, and unequal access to resources love?"

I won't pretend that I've figured out all the issues concerned with working for peace and justice, but now in my junior year of college I have an idea of what I want my personal mission to look like.  It is based off of the simple question, "If people don't have basic needs, like food, water, and shelter, how can they be expected to care about other things that make a community healthy like sanitization, education, and social movement?" 

I am seeking a degree in Engineering so that I can gain the practical math and science skills needed to solve problems such as water sanitization, irrigation, structural integrity, renewable energy, resource distribution, and project planning in the U.S. or anywhere else.  I believe stopping conflicts over resources to be a first step in making peace between individuals and countries.  It will also enable people to turn their focus from survival to their own well-being, cultural understanding, politics, social justice, etc. 

Naomi Ojiro

Naomi Ojiro
Junior, International Studies major

My strength in peacemaking is Christ. The fact that now I'm walking with him and knowing that he is with me at all times, I can be confident that I can be the peacemaker.

When I was in junior high school and was dreaming to work at the United Nations, I was always asking myself how peace could be established in this world of conflict. It seemed impossible to a 13 year old girl who never thought of Christ. I lived in a country where war existed only in history, and had no idea how wars and conlict around the world could be settled down when the conflicts were so deeply rooted in people's history, memory, and heart. It still seems overwhelming to think how peace can be established. Not just in the international level, but there are so many moments that it is just impossible to love others and to be a peacemaker because I do not have the complete love. But I have Christ, and I have my faith to follow him. It never makes me perfect, but faith is not about seeing but believing.

I want to believe in the word of God that says love overcomes sin and hatred. I think the only way to have a truly loving manner and to become the "true" peacemaker is through Jesus. With Christ in my heart and by following him, I promise to God that I will live as a practitioner of God's love that makes me a person who builds up God's kingdom where true peace exists in this world. Like Luke 17:21 says, God's kingdom exists within us; "Nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is in your midst."