In sixty days (yes, I have a countdown on my phone) I will be on my way to Norway representing Augustana College as a Peace Scholar! As I anxiously await my departure on June 14th, I cannot help but to wonder where I will be as an individual, scholar, and artist at the end of August. I never imagined myself embarking on a journey of this nature until coming to Augustana. I am surrounded by the most supportive and globally-minded individuals. My peers, professors, and mentors inspire me on a daily basis to explore a world full of opportunities and engage in dialogue concerning peace and social justice.
Amidst studying for tests, writing papers, and pulling all nighters in the studio, I have been developing my thoughts on what I will be studying and researching as Peace Scholar. Inspired by conversation today with Dr. Reynold Nesiba and 2013 Peace Scholar Alexandra Hjerpe, I am making my first post on this blog as a way to track my thoughts and experiences as I cross barriers of language, culture, and religion this summer.
The Nobel Peace Prize Forum offers scholarships each year through a consortium of six private liberal arts colleges for students to study at the International School University of Oslo in Norway. As one of the thirteen scholars attending the University of Oslo this summer, I will be taking a course of my choice and attending a Peace Scholars seminar to deepen my knowledge of contemporary Norwegian culture, conflict resolution, and international peacemaking. In addition to my experience in Oslo, I will attend a week-long dialogue seminar in Lillehammer, Norway.
As an art and education major, I hope to focus my research on the support provided for youth at risk in the Norwegian and American education systems. My interest in this topic stems from a desire to use art as a form of therapy and community building. Today I had the wonderful opportunity to talk to Dr. Steve Van Bockern, professor of education at Augustana and founder of Reclaiming Youth International, an organization dedicated to helping adults better serve youth who are in emotional pain from conflict at home, at school, and within their communities. I am in the process of conducting similar research focused on the role religion plays in governmental support of organizations helping destitute and orphaned children in India. I will be spending thirty-four days during January 2015 in Haridwar, India volunteering at Sri Ram Ashram Orphanage conducting my research and helping children share their stories through art.
I am excited by the possibilities these two projects hold, and cannot wait to share my experiences with you!