When I first sat down with Dr. Randolph Hollingsworth, Dr. Richard Greissman, and Dr. Arne Bathke to discuss the vision of Peace House, the positive energy and idealism of the project were contagious. However, I quickly realized that Peace House was only in its beginning phases. It did not yet have a set mission statement, a certain physical location, a timeline for development, or an online presence. In our first meetings, we discussed the possibility that Peace House might be kicked off in the fall of 2011. At this point, the fall of 2012 is probably a more realistic goal. This realization meant that my goals in working on the project had to change.
My challenges in working on this jury project fell into three categories: self-doubt, communication frustration, and the bigger picture. My self-doubt had to do with general lack of clarity as to what my project might accomplish. To develop a project in Second Life when I had no familiarity with the program or its potential as a learning tool was difficult at times; I sometimes doubted if the space would actually translate into something significant and useable. As far as communication, I had moments of frustration in getting on the same page with Chris, the designer I worked with. It took patience and diligence to create a schedule where both of us showed up and consistently worked on the project. Finally, fitting my project into the bigger picture of Peace House was a concern for me. Right now, I feel that Peace House is still in its conceptual phases, and a timeline has not been worked out for implementation. Therefore, I don’t know how soon or in what way my project will connect to that project.
Next Steps and Goals
The Perennial Peace Garden is currently being moved from the place it was constructed to UKisland. This is a major step. After it is placed, I will be able to begin fine tuning it and experimenting with its learning potential. In the spring of this year, I hope to begin publicizing the space in Second Life and getting feedback from visitors. My hope is that the garden I’ve created can mirror the real world peace-related activities we create on campus at UK. It can also be incorporated into the Peace Studies curriculum. Finally, I aim to build connections to international schools and begin creating dialogues and discussions in Second Life. From here, I want to broaden the web-presence of second life to include blogs and social networking. After spending two weeks glued to Aljazeera watching events unfold in Egypt, I am extremely aware of the vast power of social networking site to activate social movements and change group conciousness.
I will continue my involvement with the larger Peace House Initiative throughout my undergraduate career in hopes that the vibrant community I’ve discovered through my jury project can continue coming together and bringing a shared vision to fruition.