Sunday, September 26, 2010

The in-between space

I feel like I have arrived in the in-between space of "home". Not there, not quite here yet either. Surrounded by so much that is new, things which are exciting and curious! Yet still craving the feeling of normal or at ease, my beloved people, life that feels familiar. A friend once told me that jet lag/ adapting to a new place is caused by the fact that while there are many types of transportation we can physically take, our souls travel by foot. The longer the distance, the longer it takes for your soul to rejoin you. How long do you think it takes to walk from Edmonton to Costa Rica? This prairie girl yearns for a clear blue sky, even just for one day. The clouds and rain which are an almost constant companion are not helping with my mood!

So here I am circling the in-between space, trying to be kind to myself in this time of settling in. People keep asking if I have 'made lots of friends'. Oh to have that skill! I have met lots of people - and I can imagine them becoming friends... but 'friend' has that resonance as someone you trust with your hopes and dreams, schemes and plots... and I am not quite there yet.

There are parts of my life here that I know would make people at home laugh. Like somehow I have become the IT support for my class. HOW is that possible? I have no idea. Goodness I hope they don't ever hit on anything complicated. They don't seem to believe me that technical things tend to die around me. Thankfully right now my 'techie' responsibilities have been linked to using the projector which I can totally figure out! Whew! Maybe this is where the not-for-profit training comes in, when you just don't have a budget to hire someone else to do tech, you either learn it or leave it. Let's just hope I don't cause it all to short out.

My class is presently working through 6 themes of Peace Education: Dismantling the culture of war; living with justice and compassion; promoting human rights and responsibilities; building cultural respect, reconciliation and solidarity; living in harmony with the earth; and cultivating inner peace. There is so much to read and think about - yet so little time in the day.

Today I have been reading about globalization (which, by the way, my computer's dictionary doesn't believe is a word) and thinking about my friends scattered around the world. Thinking about the work being done independently, in our communities that is a part of something more connected. I am so thankful for all of you who travel with me in my heart. Incredible friends, creating peacefulness around you. I am thankful for the questions that people ask me, for the encouragement, for the people who listen to my rambling stories of things I have seen/felt/experienced. Thankful for the people who laugh with me, cry with me, walk with me.... I wonder how else it is possible to maintain hope while reading about all the things that people do one another that are hurtful, harmful and hateful?

I hope joy is surrounding you in your pockets of the world.
Peace to you,

Monday, September 20, 2010

International Day of Peace

Tuesday is the International Day of Peace! There are activities happening all over the world - at UPeace we have been working up to this day, creating a mural which will be put into a time capsule to be opened in 2020. Below is the 'sneak peak' at the presentation, seeing some of what we created.

Peace to you!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Independence and Peaceful Paint

Wow - time continues to fly. I had a break between classes, which I feel was ages ago... and really just finished.

I have promised some pictures to people so here goes!

This my new little home. I have a neighbour who lives above me who is from Toronto. It's right near the center of town, which is nice. Inside I have a little kitchen, bedroom, small living room and bathroom. Its comfortable and starting to feel like "home". My stove and shower were recently fixed, which makes it even better. Who's visiting first?

Wednesday was a national holiday this week, celebrating Independence! The following day at school one of the neighbouring elementary schools came to show off some of their traditional dance and costumes!

Since I got here, I have been listening to the marching bands practising. Joyful, although not always good, music that creeps into any space.

My classmates and I are preparing for the International Day of Peace (Sept 21st). Each year the Peace Education program prepares an activity to celebrate this day. As this year is an anniversary year for the school, we are preparing a time capsule which will be opened in 2020. We are preparing to send forward our dreams, hopes and plans for peace - in art. Today we completed the first portion of the art for the capsule, a mural made of hand-prints. Monday we will add our words, before burying it on Tuesday. Students are also creating paper cranes - our countdown is on.

Step one - the general sketch of the mural

Starting to add our hands!

Mixing more paint!!

Where we're at so far. It's looking good. I am excited for the next step. What are YOU doing for the international day of peace? There are initiatives happening all over the world!

We have just started our second class, which is the first course of our individual programs. This course is called, Peace Education: Theory and Practice. I think it is going to be great, but wowza - I don't know how I am going to keep up with this much reading. I think I had forgotten that school means giving up fiction.

I hope all is well with you!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Grad School's becoming fun...

Wow! One class done. I can't believe it. I still feel like I just got here!

The end to our class included group presentations of a conflict analysis model. My group was looking at the border conflict between Colombia and Venezuela. It has been interesting working to collaborate with such diverse points of view on issues that are so complex. The balance of different backgrounds, different political concepts, different understandings of an issue. My group wanted to bring something to our presentation that was a bit different - so we created a short video clip. It was pretty fun - included here for your viewing entertainment. :)

In my last posting - I asked people what their perspectives were on obstacles to peace in Alberta. A couple people got back in touch - thanks so much. It has been really interesting. There are so many different possibilities, especially as we can come to understand the sources, we stand a much better chance of addressing them.

I decided to write my paper on affluence. I saw so many different symptoms of affluence that I see challenging the peace process in Alberta. What do you think? I am still finishing up the paper so you can still offer your two cents. :)

Tonight I am going to San Jose with some friends to the "Jazz Cafe". They say there is a band from Nicaragua playing tonight - which should be fun.
Peace to you!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Drip drip - alas no water...

My second week of classes have completed - I can hardly believe it. Prior to leaving I was thinking about how intense it would be to have courses over three week periods. Even my imagination had no idea... In three weeks I will have read a mountain of articles, completed two reflection papers, two presentations, one scholarly paper and a series of responses to questions following seminars. Whew. This is going to be one heck of a year!

Part of my plan for this weekend is to start on the big paper. The question we were presented is to write about something that we see as "an obstacle to peace in your home context". So - Albertan friends, what do you think is an obstacle to peace at home? I have been thinking about this a lot. Thankfully it doesn't need to be "the" obstacle to peace, just one. I think I will see what you all suggest before I tell you my plan. See if we thinking similarly or not. :)

Sunday I have been invited, along with the other students from UPeace to share in Iftar, a breaking of the fast, which is part of Ramadan. It is very exciting to a part of such a diverse community - who are both willing and excited to share their experiences, culture and traditions.

I realized the other day that I haven't taken a single picture since I got here - I am going to try to do that this weekend as well, show you a bit of what I am seeing. In the midst of rainy season everything is SO green. Today is the third day where we haven't had water. I hope that it returns soon - as I am running out of my little store - and the pile of dishes is bugging me. Small concerns I suppose. I am feeling ready for a shower though. Maybe later today - who knows.

To my Canadian friends - happy long weekend.
peace to you,