SPI Scholarships A Source of Hope

Donors see SPI scholarships as a source of hope

FOR MANY PEACEBUILDERS attending the 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.

“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. 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.

During SPI 2018, more than 180 people from 35 countries took at least one of the 19 training courses offered.


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.”

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 truth-telling and reconciliation.

Maji Ndasule PeterX, a trainer and coordinator with Carefronting’s Alternatives to Violence Project in Nigeria, and Alexia Stouraiti, a lawyer, mediator, restorative circles keeper and psychodramatist from Athens, Greece, received the Stoltzfus Scholarships for international participants working to bridge global barriers of language and culture.

Coming to the Table offers scholarships to its members, who work on “acknowledging and healing wounds from racism that is rooted in the United States’ history of slavery,” according to their website. 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 truth-telling to restorative justice and STAR training.