Where is your favorite place in the world?
I asked this question when the 16 of us Peace Scholars were doing a meet and greet with about 14 peace research grad students from around the world at the International Summer School (ISS). I was surprised to find that almost all of them answered by naming their hometown. When I also asked my fellow Peace Scholars (most of whom are from the United States) this same question later on, many of them responded with a specific spot—like their room or a specific hill.
These peace research students, and so many more people I met at ISS, are incredibly passionate about working to make their homes better places to live.
I think that for much of my life I have thought of my own home country, the United States, as a lost cause. I have searched for the feeling of “home” in other countries so I could feel good about working for peace in those places instead. I did, indeed, find a sense of “home” on many of my travels, particularly in Palestine, and I do want to continue fighting for peace and justice across the world.
This summer, however, I realized the importance of working within my own community as well. I also realized how attached I have become to New Haven, Connecticut in the 7 years since I have moved there.
I have many favorite places in the world that I see such potential in, but which need so much work to become places that everyone can feel happy and safe living in. My hometown is one of those places, and I feel inspired by all those I met this summer to make it a beautiful, wonderful place.