Second-year master’s degree candidates in the conflict transformation and restorative justice programs at Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding are required to fulfill a practicum or research project. Below are MA graduates and their capstone projects.
Debbie Bayless – Collaborating on housing code violations, expanding community leadership through conversations
Bayliss sought to expand community leadership by conducting one-on-one conversations with residents in the Northeast neighborhoods of Kansas City, Missouri, where she is a staff mediator, facilitator and restorative justice practitioner for at the Center for Conflict Resolution. The organization has facilitated Neighborhood Accountability Boards (NAB) to process housing code violations over the last two years, in which those who have received housing code violations meet with community members and resources to create a plan on how to correct violations. But Debbie noticed a gap in community awareness and engagement, and began to have the most amazing conversations with residents of the Northeast, who are creative and ready to collaborate on the NAB program. Each conversation led her to someone else who had even more ideas and experiences related to housing code issues. Tackling such tough topics as gentrification, segregation and immigration helped her connect with groups who are willing to learn and act. Debbie’s practicum culminated in a focus group discussion where those interviewed met and talked about shared experiences and how they can best support each other towards positive community interactions.
Brenna Case – Everyone wants a revolution but nobody wants to do the dishes: Reflections on being a white American in justice work
Brenna spent her practicum in the design, monitoring, and evaluation department of the International Center for Transitional Justice, and as a researcher for a mapping initiative run by Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth, building networks between various organizations working to transform violence against African Americans within the U.S. She learned about creating feedback loops, networks and emergent spaces to support existing justice work, and examined her own positionality and the navigation of identities of privilege within international and domestic justice initiatives.
Matt Fehse – United Way: A collective impact approach to peacebuilding
In his practicum, Matt analyzed various programs through which United Way seeks large-scale impact, in particular Build United: a housing repair and maintenance program for low-income and physically and mentally disabled folk.
Youngji Jang – Practicing restorative justice in schools, courts, and prison
For her practicum, Youngji worked in the Restorative Justice Clinic at Campbell University Law School in Raleigh, North Carolina, practicing in three interrelated fields: the local school system, the legal system, and the prison. Youngji became proficient in facilitating restorative dialogue in cases of physical assault in school cases and in facilitating restorative circles in prisons. She also had the opportunity to be involved in facilitated dialogue in a groundbreaking felony case for North Carolina. Read an article about her practicum.
Jennifer Chi Lee – Re-embracing hope through her daughters, anger and courage
In recent years the rise of youth movements across the globe have challenged many people out of apathy and into action. In South Africa, university-aged activists known collectively as “Fallists” rose up in protest against the ongoing effects of colonialism, neoliberalism, and capitalism. They stirred new debate in the country about what they deemed “the myth of the rainbow nation.” Unlike the anti-apartheid movement, which had a strong Christian presence in its formation and leadership, the Fallist movement overall has been decidedly secular. Living in South Africa for the better part of the last decade as an Asian-American Christian missions worker, Jen has grappled with her identity and place both in South Africa and the United States, especially in the ongoing pursuit of peace and justice. Through her thesis, she explored the role of faith and communities of faith in the lives of young Christian activists in Cape Town, emerging with grief at the ways the church had disappointed, alienated and harmed them. But as she continued to grapple with the stories they shared and wrestled through her own anger, she learned to embrace hope again, and found new courage.
Brian McLauchlin – Peace camp: Tools and reflections toward trauma awareness and healing
The Washington D.C.-based Little Friends for Peace (LFFP) seeks to interrupt violence by building skills for peace. During his time at LFFP, Brian learned its peace camp model, and how it pertains to trauma awareness and healing.
Kajungu Mturi – Reintegration as a transformative process: Zambia Correction Service
“I was thinking to go and kill the person who brought me to the prison so they can convict me for something I have done. But, the peace club has helped me to change my wishes and now I want to meet with my offender and talk about our differences.” This is one of many voices Kajungu heard during the workshop at Choma central correction service. As the Zambia Government changes the name of prison to the correction service, the peace club at Choma correction service becomes an important bridge in this transition. Before and during his practicum, Kajungu witnessed how the peace club changed the relationships among inmates, how it helped in the reintegration back to the community, and how peace club members who were released brought changes to their communities. The peace club at Choma correctional service has drawn attention to the correctional service at a national level and hopefully Restorative Justice will be a part of the prison system countrywide in Zambia for the future.
Ian Pulz – “Training, Main, Final”: A look at experiential peacebuilding, organizational structure, and a new paradigm for INGOs
As an intern with Outward Bound’s Center for Peacebuilding, Ian learned about experiential peacebuilding, structure, and Outward Bound’s “training, main, final” approach in a new organizational environment.
Matt Tibbles – Organizational culture and trauma-informed practices: A qualitative study
Organizations can exhibit many of the same indicators presented by individuals exposed to traumagenic events: hypervigilance, hopelessness and helplessness, diminished creativity, inability to embrace complexity, and many more. These responses influence organizational culture and can change employees and the workplace into an unhealthy and toxic environment. But also much like individuals, organizations have the ability to change and become healthy and thriving. Tibbles studied how one corporation introduced trauma-informed and resilient strategies and practices to change their organizational culture and employee wellness.
Chihchun Yuan – The Humanitarian Crisis in Lesvos Island, Greece
Lesvos is an island in Greece fewer than 10 kilometers from Turkey but far from the mainland of Europe. The island has become one of the best borders to keep refugees outside of Europe. With a population of about 80,000 people and 6,000-8,000 refugees, the island has become a hotspot for western humanitarian projects. Chihchun worked at one grassroots-run refugee camp, distributing clothes and in the restroom. The environment and the people there helped her learn about their everyday peace and conflict, and she tried to use the two spaces (clothing shop and restroom) to create a platform for community communication: The shop was not only a place of material relationship; the restroom became the reason to form a resident committee. Her stories (and many confusions) reflect the risks and opportunities that she faced in her humanitarian work.