Tecla Namachanja Wanjala, the Eastern Mennonite University Center for Justice and Peacebuilding 2019 Peacebuilder of the Year, will speak at a Horizons of Change lunch during the Summer Peacebuilding Institute, which begins May 13. (Photo by Andrew Strack)

Radio star, authors and peacebuilder of the year highlighted during SPI Horizons of Change luncheons

Peace advocates from all around the world attending the 2019 Summer Peacebuilding Institute (SPI) at Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP) will not only learn from global peacebuilding experts and each other. They’ll also hear from a variety of peacebuilders during Horizons of Change lunches.

During four sessions in May and June, which begin May 13, academically credentialed practitioners teach five- and seven-day courses that can be taken for personal skills growth and training or academic credit. SPI participants also share wisdom and knowledge and meals with each other and take time for rest, reflection and renewal.

In addition, a Horizons of Change lunch during each session will feature a guest speaker:

  • Wednesday, May 15: Tecla Wanjala MA ’13 (conflict transformation) is the 2019 CJP Peacebuilder of the Year and the chairperson of the Kenya-based Green String Network, which is dedicated to building on local cultural practices and traditions to facilitate social change. She will share her experiences of community peacebuilding and social healing.
  • Tuesday, May 28: Donna Hicks is the author of two books on dignity, which most people fail to respect when trying to resolve problems. She will highlight what to know about dignity, how to lead with dignity, and how to create a culture where dignity is respected.
  • Wednesday, June 5: Honey Al-Sayed was a Syrian radio star with one of the top-rated morning shows in Syria until she was forced to flee the war in 2012. In the United States she set up an online radio show to reach Syrians in the country and around the world. She is the CEO of a creative consulting and talent agency that represents media and arts professionals from conflict zones, and was interviewed on The Takeway.
  • Tuesday, June 11: Jodie Geddes and Tom DeWolf are members of Coming to the Table, an organization that started with 20 people at EMU in 2006 and has grown to thousands in 12 states. They recently co-authored The Little Book of Racial Healing, which came about during the 2016 restorative justice conference held on campus at EMU.

For more information about any of these speakers or to register for a Horizons of Change lunch ($20 for non-SPI participants, $16 for EMU faculty and staff), please contact Alison D’Silva at dsilvam@emu.edu.

Course topics include understanding conflict, circle processes, community organizing, healing through theater, Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience (STAR), building resilience for challenging system racism, peacebuilding approaches to violent extremism, and much more.

Just three of the more than 20 SPI instructors are:

  • Hizkias Assefa has worked as a mediator and facilitator of reconciliation processes at political and community levels in a number of civil wars in Africa, Latin America, and Asia including Rwanda, Nigeria, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Israel/Palestine, and Guatemala.
  • Ram Bhagat is committed to healing trauma in classrooms, communities, and consciousness. He is the visionary behind the Richmond Youth Peace Project, a dynamic program that promotes a culture of nonviolence to the city’s youth, through innovative, youth-led peacemaking initiatives.
  • Lucy Steinitz concentrates on efforts to prevent and respond to the abuse and exploitation of children and vulnerable adults worldwide through local capacity-building, project development and technical support. Most recently, she has directly involved in combating human trafficking in India, family-strengthening in Uganda, post-Ebola recovery in Sierra Leone and promoting trauma-healing in Zimbabwe, South Sudan and Latin America.