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IPCR Alumni Return to Facilitate Spring Dialogues

By Joy Bonham

The Spring 09 semester began with three International Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) alumni returning to facilitate a seven-week sustained dialogue. Robbie Wellington, Irene Nasser, and Emily Siegel have continued their
involvement in dialogue by coming back to campus and participating with DDG.

Wellington received his Master’s in IPCR and acquired a joint-degree at Wesley Theological Seminary with a Master’s of Divinity and a Master’s of Theological Studies in May 2008. He participated in his first dialogue in the fall of 2007 on Interfaith and co-facilitated other faith-related dialogues in spring 2008, fall 2008 and spring 2009. When asked why he continues to volunteer in dialogue he says, “I love the DDG community. Moreover, dialogue as a tool and resource for conflict resolution is central to both my ministry and my PhD work. I feel honored to be able to stay connected with this amazing group of people and continue to learn so much in the dialogue process.”

Currently Wellington is doing his PhD in world politics at The Catholic University of America in D.C. He is interested in doing his dissertation on Palestinian-Israeli dialogue as a paradigm for Track II Diplomacy. He works as a full-time chaplain at Community Hospices of Washington and will become an ordained Minster of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church in May 2009.

Also returning to facilitate is August 2008 graduate Emily Siegel and December 2007 graduate Irene Nasser. In the past, Siegel and Nasser have co-facilitated a dialogue on US/Islamic relations and are now co-facilitating their second sustainable dialogue on Personal Explorations of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict. Due to the recent violence in Gaza, both graduates were approached to facilitate a dialogue and fulfill the need on campus to have a dialogue around this topic. Since both graduates are in D.C. and enjoy co-facilitating, this was also an opportunity for them to continue working together. 

Siegel graduated from the IPCR program with a focus on Justice and Peacebuilding through youth and education. Recently she has returned from working for an organization in California that works with Muslim, Jewish, Israeli and Palestinian communities in the US, and she is currently a consultant for an inter-faith organization that runs delegations to Israel/Palestine. She has also applied to PhD programs in the field.

After Nasser graduated from the IPCR program, she began working as an Outreach Associate with the non-profit organization Just Vision. Nasser believes that there is a “need to create a platform for civilians as a means of creating a critical mass that will bring a nonviolent equitable solution, particularly in the Palestinian- Israeli context.” While dialogue is not the only means of finding a solution, she does see it as a step towards mobilizing people into constructive action. Nasser also returned to DDG with the hope that her facilitation will lead to a larger discussion and create a more active nonviolent response towards the conflict.

DDG has provided a vehicle for students to translate theory into practice during their time in the IPCR Program as well as the opportunity to build their skills once they have graduated.

This article was originally published in the Spring 2009 Dialogue Development Group Newsletter.