Gaines Fellow Juried Project: The Perennial Peace Project

Jessica Anderson, Gaines Fellow

Gaines Fellow Jessica Anderson at AMENDS (American Middle Eastern Network Dialogue at Stanford) Conference, Stanford Univ, April 2012

Gaines Center for the Humanities
Jury Project
Jessica Anderson (SL Leyla Longfall)
February 2011

“Establishing lasting peace is the work of education,  all politics can do is keep us out of war.”  -Maria Montessori

 “Would it not be wise to endow the science of peace with strong schools just as one has its sister the department of war?” –Rafael Dubois

Just a few weeks prior to my application to the Gaines Fellowship in the Humanities, I ventured out on a snowy weekend to have dinner with a new friend of mine who recently came to the United States from Bahrain for school. When we left the restaurant later that evening, I was elated by the joy of cross-cultural interaction. With thousands of miles of space between our homelands and extremely different ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds, discovering that we shared many things in common felt epic. It was so human. Our differences, meanwhile, were curiously fascinating.

When we left the restaurant to drive home, we found the word “terrorist” written in the snow on the hood of my Honda Odyssey, next to the statement, “Jesus love you.” My friend’s reaction was very subdued, but I was shaking with emotions ranging from anger and embarrassment to sadness and shame. This was a defining moment for me. Previously, my awareness of Islamophobia and related issues were limited to what I had read and studied, but here on the hood of my car was a stark, cold juxtaposition between friendship and hate, and between hate and religion. Those words would have melted away if I hadn’t wiped them out of the snow immediately, but they will never melt out of my mind.

Hate, ignorance, and conflict are things we read about daily in the headlines, often in a way that only exacerbates the energies that lead to such conflict in the first place. With this in mind, when I applied to the Gaines Fellowship in the Humanities during the spring of my Sophomore year, one of my stated objectives was, “to design and develop a jury project that connects Lexington to the global movement toward a compassion-based approach to religious interpretation and conflict resolution.” Cultivating conscientious, responsible engagement in international issues, dialogues, and educational experiences is not a short-term goal for my jury project or for my undergraduate career; it is a lifelong mission statement.

Over the last seven months, my work on UK’s Peace House Initiative has been the beginning of an intentional engagement in Lexington’s community of peace activists and educators. Although the dream of creating a Peace House on the University of Kentucky’s campus still has a long road to realization, I was able to develop a parallel project that gives Peace House a global presence and will begin to enable the types of dialogues and interactions characteristic to Peace House. I’ve called this, “the Perennial Peace Project.” The Perennial Peace Project is by no means completed, but I believe I have already begun to accomplish many of the aims set out by the Jury Project, including bringing knowledge of the humanities to Lexington, meeting and networking with members of the community, and working with a project from the conceptual phase to the concrete.

Hate, ignorance, and conflict are things we read about daily in the headlines, often in a way that only exacerbates the energies that lead to such conflict in the first place. With this in mind, when I applied to the Gaines Fellowship in the Humanities during the spring of my Sophomore year, one of my stated objectives was, “to design and develop a jury project that connects Lexington to the global movement toward a compassion-based approach to religious interpretation and conflict resolution.” Cultivating conscientious, responsible engagement in international issues, dialogues, and educational experiences is not a short-term goal for my jury project or for my undergraduate career; it is a lifelong mission statement.

Over the last seven months, my work on UK’s Peace House Initiative has been the beginning of an intentional engagement in Lexington’s community of peace activists and educators. Although the dream of creating a Peace House on the University of Kentucky’s campus still has a long road to realization, I was able to develop a parallel project that gives Peace House a global presence and will begin to enable the types of dialogues and interactions characteristic to Peace House. I’ve called this, “the Perennial Peace Project.” The Perennial Peace Project is by no means completed, but I believe I have already begun to accomplish many of the aims set out by the Jury Project, including bringing knowledge of the humanities to Lexington, meeting and networking with members of the community, and working with a project from the conceptual phase to the concrete.

*** NEXT: Gaines Fellow Juried Project – page 2

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