“Great experience, fun, useful. Would do it all over again if I could.” “Definitely worth it! THIS WAS AWESOME WISH I COULD STAY!” These were only two of the glowing statements from the thirteen participants in the inaugural Peace Institute, which took place August 4-6.
A dream that first entered the mind of then Loras senior, Stacia (Edwards) McDermott (current Director of Spiritual Life and Peace & Justice) in 2003, finally came to fruition 14 years later.
After a year of fundraising, planning and promotion, Director of the Institute, Rev. Lindsay James, put together a three-day, overnight experience for high school students focusing on peace with self, others, and the world. Participants were supported by six current Loras students that served as their small group leaders, looking to peace heroes from the Abrahamic traditions, as their models of inspiration.
With a wide variety of learning styles, the Institute included trips to Swiss Valley, Four Mounds Ropes Course, Temple Beth El, The Tri-State Islamic Center, and Sinsinawa Mound.
“We wanted the peace fellows to be able to engage with the wider Dubuque community, including learning about Judaism, Islam, and Christianity,” James said.
Participants learned the importance of working on peace with self, with the understanding that it is difficult to create peace in other communities if you are struggling internally. Additionally, peace fellows learned that working for peace is not passive, but active—acquiring skills and knowledge in nonviolent communication, restorative justice, and eco-literacy.
Now that the first Peace Institute is completed, the dream continues to expand to not only grow the overnight experience, but develop teams of Loras students to go out into schools and congregations, bringing peace from an abstract concept to active skill-acquisition and knowledge that can be applied in all contexts of life.
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