Paul Ruot Bayoch, a master trainer with AECOM International in South Sudan, was awarded the Alper Family Scholarship to attend the Summer Peacebuilding Institute at Eastern Mennonite University. The institute offers several scholarships to attend the annual event, which this year brought together more than 180 people from 35 countries. (Photo by Macson McGuigan)

Valley Friends and other organizations support Summer Peacebuilding Institute scholarships

For many peacebuilders attending Summer Peacebuilding Institute at Eastern Mennonite University, scholarships provide the necessary funds to travel and take courses. Since 2006, the Valley Friends meeting, a group of 25 to 30 families, has made an SPI scholarship the largest allotment in their annual budget.

“We’re a small meeting so we’ve decided that financial support of peacebuilders is a way to live out our values,” said member Lois Carter Crawford.

Over the years, that support has contributed to training for Quakers working with the African Great Lakes Initiative, an initiative of the Friends Peace Team. This year, with no international SPI participants signaling Quaker affiliation on their SPI application, the committee shifted their focus.

Zanetta Ford-Byrd, recipient of a Valley Friends Meeting scholarship, is executive director of the Harrisonburg Education Foundation.

“Because there’s been so much violence in the US, we looked for someone locally who was working on reduction of gun violence and peacemaking,” Crawford said.

That recipient was Zanetta Ford-Byrd, executive director of the Harrisonburg Education Foundation and a sociology professor at James Madison University. The foundation funds educational opportunities through its Innovative Educator Grants, celebrates professional excellence through its Teacher of the Year awards, and helps to galvanize the community to support Harrisonburg City Public Schools.

By paying tuition of a local recipient, the fund also had money remaining to award a partial scholarship to Mohammed Ishaq Israr, of Pakistan. He works with Penny Appeal, an organization that provides foster care for orphaned children and homes for widows and homeless men.

Israr has attended SPI four times, once as a Winston Fellow and last year with the support of Valley Friends. Each time he has stayed with the Crawfords in their home.

By the end of June, more than 180 people from 35 countries will have taken at least one of SPI’s 19 training courses.

Here’s a list of other scholarships and the peacebuilders who benefited from their support.

Winston Fellowship


Esther Paya is the 2018 Winston Fellow.

Esther Paya, of Nigeria, is the 2018 Winston Fellow. She took the Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience (STAR) II training, as well as courses in formation for peace practice and truth-telling, racial healing and restorative justice.

The fellowship is focused on providing new skills and training to emergent international or indigenous peacebuilders. Paya has been involved in the field since 2014. To help others build resilience and heal, as she had to do, Paya first began volunteering to help traumatized victims of violence and to facilitate around forgiveness and reconciliation. In 2015, she began working with the Dialogue, Reconciliation and Peace Centre and the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria on a Mennonite Central Committee-funded peace project in the northeast.

The Winston Fellowship requires that both the applicant and the organization seeking the training both present an application. The application must explain how the two entities will partner together to provide a six-week internship when the peacebuilder returns from SPI.

When Paya returns to Nigeria after SPI, she will fulfill scholarship requirements by rejoining the center to work in an European Union-funded project that aims to promote respect for diversity among community members by engagement in intercultural and interreligious activities.

Paul Ruot Bayoch.

Read more about the past and present Winston Fellows, and how the scholarship began.

Alper Family Scholarship: Paul Ruot Bayoch

Paul Ruot Bayoch, a master trainer with AECOM International in South Sudan, was awarded the Alper Family Scholarship, which supports one African or Asian peacebuilder with tuition and lodging for two SPI sessions. Bayoch facilitates the trauma awareness program, which uses STAR curriculum. He took courses in restorative justice, conflict analysis and truthtelling and reconciliation.

Stoltzfus Scholarship: Maji Ndasule PeterX and Alexia Stouraiti

Maji Ndasule PeterX.

The Stoltzfus Scholarship awards training fees and lodging for two sessions to one international participant working to bridge global barriers of language and culture.

Recipients were Maji Ndasule PeterX, who took courses in restorative justice and truthtelling and reconciliation, and Alexia Stouraiti, who took a circle process course and Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience (STAR) training.

Ndasule, from Nigeria, is a trainer and coordinator with Carefronting in Nigeria. He is lead facilitator for the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) and the trauma consciousness and resilience program and has offered trainings around the world on a variety of peace-related topics. He also works in facilitation, program content development, training manual design, trauma therapy and monitoring and evaluation.

Alexia Stouraiti.

In 2017, his wife Tessy Gusim-Ndasule, who works in interreligious dialogue, was a Winston Fellow at SPI.

Stouraiti, from Athens, Greece, is a lawyer, accredited mediator, restorative circles keeper and  psychodramatist. IN 2017, she helped to facilitate circles in Greece for the Restorative Circles for Citizens in Europe program, which used the restorative approach to host talking circles in nine cities across five countries (Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Greece and Italy). The topic was  to create dialogue around the topic of euro-skepticism.

Coming to the Table members supported in racial healing work

James Tyler Jr.

Coming To The Table provides leadership, resources and a supportive environment for all who wish to acknowledge and heal wounds from racism that is rooted in the United States’ history of slavery,” according to their website. The organization, which began at EMU and still has affiliate ties, uses conceptual frameworks rooted in trauma awareness and resilience and restorative justice. Their 12th Annual National Gathering was June 14-17 at EMU.

With growing national attention on the need for racial healing, the organization has groups in seven states and Washington D.C., including a multi-state Mid-Atlantic group.

The organization has offered donor- and grant-funded scholarships to its members to attend SPI for the past five years.

This year’s recipients include Cheryl Goode, Sarah Kohrs, Sharon Morgan, Crixell Shell and James Tyler Jr. They each took one course, ranging from circle processes and truthtelling to restorative justice and STAR training.

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