The tragedies of 9/11 sparked the development of a unique approach to trauma-healing at Eastern Mennonite University—an acclaimed series of trainings called Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience (STAR), refined with the help of thousands of participants in the United States and internationally.
The inspiring story of how STAR emerged in late 2001 to support traumatized religious leaders and caregivers in New York City is contained in a just-issued e-book “STAR, The Unfolding Story, 2001-2011, A 9/11 Commemorative Edition.” It is available for downloading on EMU’s website, emu.edu.
“We wanted to commemorate 9/11 in a way that honors those who died and those who have died since then as a result of the events unleashed that day,” said Elaine Zook Barge, program director of STAR, a program of EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding. “The second purpose of the book was to document the impact of the STAR program and the effects it has had throughout the world.”
In addition, Barge believes the e-book can provide another informational tool for organizations and individuals who are interested in knowing more about STAR and how it facilitates trauma healing and training.
“A core concept of STAR that is found in the book is that unhealed trauma has some predictable characteristics,” said Carolyn Yoder, program director of STAR during 2002-06. “One being that it leads to cycles of violence that are acted out against ourselves or others. Breaking free of cycles of violence is a process that begins with an awareness of what trauma does to individuals and groups.”
Persons affected by Sept. 11 are not the only ones who have benefited from STAR, said Barge. “At first the focus was on 9/11 in terms of trauma and conflict transformation, but now we are assisting persons affected by natural disasters and conflict and violence of all types.”
Interest in the STAR program is as high as ever, according to Barge. The challenge for Barge and the STAR trainers is getting the program in the hands of non-government organizations (NGOs), specifically those struggling due to economic stress. The e-book seeks to change that.
“I’ve already talked with a new NGO in Minnesota and in Guatemala,” said Barge. “It was very beneficial to have an electronic resource available to send to them.”
Over the next 10 years Barge believes STAR can continue growing through government and non-governmental organizations.
“We anticipate the growth of STAR to continue through expansion of technical assistance, specialized training for veterans and youth, and offering STAR for credit at EMU,” said Yoder.
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