by Brenna Cussen Anglada, Director of the Peace Institute
I came in not thinking that world peace was attainable, and I leave knowing that is attainable, and that I am going to work towards it happening.”
I am so impressed with the Peace Institute. [My son] told me he didn’t want to leave… I think you have an opportunity to really make a difference in people’s lives and in turn, make a difference in the world.”
This was just some of the feedback my husband and I received after spending four days and three nights with 21 high school aged youth at the second annual Loras College Peace Institute, empowering students with awareness of and concrete skills in peace building. In collaboration with Loras’ Spiritual Life and Peace and Justice Offices, we framed the week around peace with self, peace with community, peace with creation, and peace with the world. From spiritual practice to public protest, from nurturing community to caring for creation, we emphasized how peace is multi-faceted, and that it takes each one of us working in our own areas of passion in order for peace to flourish.
The different focus for each day enabled us to delve deeply into practicing mindfulness and self-care, learn skills in nonviolent communication, have serious conversations around racism and confronting racist behavior, check out urban and rural farming and sustainability projects, hear an Indigenous perspective on colonization, and discuss our nation’s immigration policies. Each day, the students heard from members of various faith traditions and worldviews: Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Meskwaki. We visited a temple, a downtown Christian church, and a mosque. Students were encouraged to deeply listen, and to learn how people from each perspective understand peace.
Youth processed the material they were learning in small groups facilitated by Loras College students. Small groups created not only a “safe space” but also a “brave space” for these young people, enabling them to open up about deep personal struggles. Students also had lots of fun – laughter yoga, a ropes course, nightly bonfires, a barn dance, and more!
This year, the Peace Institute will be held from July 22-25, and will include an interactive presentation from a practitioner of nonviolent intervention and direct action in areas of violent conflict at home and abroad. We are seeking 25 students from a variety of faith traditions and racial and economic backgrounds who are interested in building a more just and peaceful world.
Please encourage the youth you know to apply for the 2019 Peace Institute. Applications, found at www.loras.edu/peaceinstitute, are due May 1st. The cost of the program, including housing, meals, and all programming for 4 days and 3 nights is $400. Need-based scholarships – full and partial – are available. For more information, contact Brenna Cussen Anglada at Brenna.firstname.lastname@example.org.