Our 2017-18 class of International Peacemaking Program fellows includes nine students, four from the U.S. and five from other countries. We asked each one of them the same set of questions.
Q. Briefly tell us about your educational background.
A. I studied at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA, for my undergrad, and a course I took in my first semester there set me on my path as a peacemaker. Other classes throughout my four years there inspired me to go into religious studies, as well.
Q. How did you learn about Hartford Seminary’s International Peacemaking Program?
A. I learned about Hartford Seminary when my advisor, who taught the class that gave me inspiration to go down the peacemaking path, forwarded me an email asking if he had any Jewish students that might be interested in taking part in the International Peacemaking Program.
Q. Why are you interested in learning about peacemaking?
A. I hope to learn how to overcome my own difficulties with interacting with others, that I may put into practice the peacemaking skills that I’ve developed both over the four years at Brandeis and the year here.
Q. How do you hope to use your skills after a year of training as a peacemaker?
A. Once I am done here, I hope to work to build interfaith bridges in my own home community. I know that there is already a group dedicated to doing just that, and I am hopeful that I will be able to work with them for that purpose. After that, I might continue into graduate school, possibly to learn how to teach. I do not know for certain.
Q. Tell us a little about your home country and the interreligious conflict it faces.
A. While I did not think, when I started my interest in religious peace building, that the United States would have need for it as much as other countries, recent events have proven to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is all the more important to build bridges between various religious communities, while still respecting their identities as separate religious communities.
Q. Give us a quick description of your home life (family, where you live, etc.)
A. At home, in Beverly, Massachusetts, I live with my parents, my sister, and our four animals, though I haven’t spent the school year there in five years. My father was raised in a Christian family, but is generally uninterested in religion, so my sister and I have been raised Jewish. I consider myself wholly Jewish, though only a little more than half of my ancestors are.
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. As I mentioned above, the phrase “We were Built for this Time” rings very true to me, especially now of all times. While I would likely have been somewhat more internationally focused had I come here two years ago, or even just last year, I believe that there can be no truer words now that recent events have proven just how deep the societal rifts are. We must speak with each other and build bridges, that we can understand one another and perceive each other as human.