Peacemaker Profile: Laurie Gaum of South Africa

Laurie Gaum

Our 2017-18 class of International Peacemaking Program fellows includes nine students from the U.S. and five other countries. We asked each one of them the same set of questions.

Q. Briefly tell us about your educational background

A. I studied for ministry in the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa and later did a masters in religious studies at the University of Cape Town.

Q. How did you learn about Hartford Seminary’s International Peacemaking Program?

A. Through someone who was a commissioner in South Africa’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission after apartheid and who once presented at Hartford and was assisting to recruit South Africans.

Q. Why are you interested in learning about peacemaking?

A. Peace can be applied to so many contexts and is not only the absence of violence. I’ve worked with its application to gender wounding and injustice and our South African context is tormented by racism, homophobia and gender-based violence, violent crime and inequality which cry out for healing.

Q. How do you hope to use your skills after a year of training as a peacemaker?

A. I hope I would have gained the perspective to return with greater clarity and focus of how and where to make the most impactful interventions building sustainable peace.

Q. Tell us a little about your home country and the interreligious conflict it faces.

A. Regarding interfaith relations it is remarkably tolerant and has a long history of amicable relations within families comprised of people from more than one faith. On other levels its peaceful transition to democracy is, however, unraveling and needs urgent intervention to address the above mentioned ills in society.

Q. Give us a quick description of your home life (family, where you live, etc.)

A. I stay in an apartment in a seaside village which is part of Cape Town, on the Atlantic coast. My parents stay about four hours’ drive from me and my brother and sister and their families also stay in Cape Town.

Q. Hartford Seminary is using the phrase “We Were Built for This Time” to address the deep divisions in our country and across the world. What does that mean to you?

A. This is significant and it really seems as if Hartford’s time has come; it is now… While in your country, in mine and worldwide the world is torn up by divisions of all kinds, it’s a wonderful reminder that there’s strength in diversity which serves the greater whole and is there to be celebrated.


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