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IPCR Students Receive Boren Awards

Over the summer, four IPCR students were awarded the competitive, merit-based Boren Graduate Fellowship. This dynamic fellowship supports students pursuing the study of languages, cultures, and world regions that are critical to U.S. interests. Kate Bogan, Joseph Imbriano, Sara Cady, and Katie Lance-Parsoud are among the eight SIS students who were awarded the prestigious Boren.

Each of these Boren Fellows is spending this year exploring the challenges of peacebuilding in a region of their interest through a self-designed project.

Katie Lance-Parsoud (MA/IPCR ‘12) is studying how the Bosnian peacebuilding process involves and empowers Bosnian youth at the grassroots level. Katie is interning at the Center for Peacebuilding in Sanski Most, with a focus on organizing and implementing Sanksi Most’s second annual International Peace Week. She will also concentrate on grant-writing, teaching German and English, while improving her Bosnian language skills. To complete her year as a Boren Fellow, Katie will participate in an 8-week intensive language study program at the Melikian Center’s Critical Language Institute at Arizona State University.

On a yearlong fellowship in Beijing, Joseph Imbriano (MA/IPCR ‘12) is examining the strategic intentions behind China’s military expansion, specifically its recent drive to expand its naval capacity. His first three months in Beijing will focus on advanced Mandarin language and policy courses at Peking University, followed by nine months conducting interviews with experts at academic institutions and think tanks on their interpretation of Beijing’s naval strategy.

Sara Cady (MA/IPCR ‘12) is focusing on improving her Modern Standard Arabic and the Palestinian dialect skills at Birzeit University in Ramallah. She is interning at Panorama, a Palestinian NGO examining how grassroots organizations work to develop Palestinian support for a comprehensive peace agreement with Israel. After nine months in Ramallah, Sara will spend summer 2012 participating in a two-month Arabic language intensive program at Middlebury College in Vermont.

Kate Bogan (MA/IPCR ‘12) is conducting research on the transitional justice and reconciliation processes in Cambodia 30 years after the crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge. In addition to learning the Khmer language, Kate is interning at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia - the hybrid national and international court that is prosecuting the Khmer Rouge leaders. She is also interning at the Center for Justice and Reconciliation, a non-profit that promotes civic education, victim support and community reconciliation.

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Laura Kurland in Xiloxchico, Mexico on a trip with Global Citizens Network(photo courtesy of Laura Kurland).

Laura Kurland

When Laura Kurland, MA/IPCR ’08, completed her MA in IPCR, she never expected to find a job so close to home.

“I definitely thought that I would have to stay in D.C. to put my degree to good use, I never thought I would find a career in Minnesota,” said Kurland.

Kurland, a native of Rochester, Minnesota, now serves as the Regional Coordinator for Latin America for the Global Citizens Network (GCN), a Minneapolis-based agency that organizes international volunteer opportunities around the world.

A former participant in the Fulbright Student Program, Kurland had spent time before and after studying in the IPCR program working in Peru, looking at the ways political decentralization impact indigenous communities.

She has taken this experience and applied it to her current position where she often must deal with conflicts that arise within GCN’s host communities. GCN sends volunteers to indigenous communities in North America, Latin America, East Africa, and Asia, to work on community development projects driven by the community.

“One of the ways I have used IPCR skills has been training leaders of our groups to understand their roles in the communities, to mediate the goals and expectations of group members and the communities they are working in,” Kurland said.

Kurland advises current IPCR students to take advantage of opportunities to travel. “The best thing I did was go abroad,” she said. “It opens a lot of doors.”

She also recommends that students be open to the idea of international volunteer work.

For more information on Global Citizens Network, visit: http://www.globalcitizens.org/.

Todd Walters

Todd Walters, IPCR/MA ’06, has combined his passion for experiential peacebuilding and some of the most amazing locations on earth to develop International Peace Parks Expeditions

IPPE operates all-inclusive educational adventure expeditions through International Peace Parks.

The profit earned from the courses and trainings helps to fund the non-profit portion of IPPE that organizes Experiential Peacebuilding Expeditions for youth affected by conflict in the Peace Park region.

For Walters, this new venture really brings together his inter¬ests and aspirations. “It combines my education, my desire to travel and live in other cultures, see some of the most beautiful places on earth, and have a positive impact on young people af¬fected by conflict,” he said.

This new organization builds on many of Walters’ previous professional experiences. He has volunteered with Center for Peace Building International (Washington, D.C.) developing experiential peacebuilding programs and has worked with the Hemlock Overlook Center for Experiential Education (Clif¬ton, VA). Walters also spent the summer of 2008 in the small mountain village of Thethi, Albania running the first Balkans Peace Park Summer Program.

The Balkans Peace Park is located in the mountainous border area between Kosovo, Montenegro and northern Albania. The parks purpose is not only to serve as a symbol for peace and cooperation, but also to promote environmental conservation, stimulate local employment, and promote eco-tourism.

It is also a career, said Walters, that draws upon many of the skills he developed while in the IPCR program. “I use IPCR skills all the time,” he said. “Whether it is a conflict analysis or mapping exercise to teach and explain to others, I am constantly working within the physical context while understanding the underlying dynamics at play.”

This new venture has also provided Walters with the oppor¬tunity to develop a curriculum for the Experiential Peacebuild¬ing Expeditions. “It harnesses pieces of conflict resolution and peacebuilding skill training and combines it with experiential learning activities, theory, and debrief,” said Walters.

While the curriculum is important, Walters said that the true skills lies in the ability of the facilitator to recognize the needs of each group. The end goal, he said, is to develop “tangible cross group relationships based on mutual trust and a shared vision of the future.” These are interactions and experiences that he hopes will be retained and built upon when the participants return to their communities.

Walters is working with Professor Saleem Ali at University of Vermont to create a three week academic field study course called “Conservation Beyond Borders: A Field Experience in the Balkans Exploring the Prospects of “Peace Parks.”

Timothy Seidel

Timothy Seidel’s, MA/IPCR ’03, interest in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was sparked while studying while studying at SIS. “While in the IPCR program at American University, I had the opportunity to engage with faculty, students and the peace studies/conflict resolution literature on issues surrounding the conflict in Israel-Palestine,” Seidel said.

Seidel took is academic work at SIS into practice as a Peace Development Worker with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in the Occupied Palestinian Territories from 2004-2007. While living in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, Seidel worked to build relationships between Israelis and Palestinians peace and justice groups and connecting peacebuilding and development organizations.

“The three years I spent living and working in Palestine-Israel was deep, rich, and intense in so many ways,” said Seidel. The Mennonite Central Committee is the peacebuilding, development, and relief arm of the Mennonite and Brethren in Christ churches in the United States and Canada.

Now back in the United States, Seidel is working as the Director for MCC’s U.S. Peace and Justice Ministries on a variety of programs including racism, immigration, peace education, and conflict transformation.

“I continue to utilize skills and draw from experiences I had while in the IPCR program,” said Seidel. His current position at MCC has led him to examining organizational development and identifying best practices related to justice and peacebuilding evaluation and accountability.

Seidel continues to write essays, articles and presentations on his work and experiences in the Middle East.

For more information on the Mennonite Central Committee, please visit http://mcc.org/.