My experience thus far with the Peace Scholars Program as well as the International Summer School has been overwhelmingly rewarding. After returning from an incredible long weekend in Poland we went to an insightful talk and discussion at the Peace Research Institute. Our host was the son of Norway’s former Prime Minister, and gave a lively talk on his philosophical theory research and the Norwegian value system. The following days that week were filled with both seminars and excursions, and we touched on a variety of different aspects of Norway’s incredibly complex peace and welfare systems. I am also a part of the Norwegian Welfare State course, and so it’s been fascinating to be able to form links between how Norway’s welfare state contributes to the idealism of a peace society.
One of the most transformative aspects of this program for me has been the opportunity to interact with so many brilliant individuals who have made a career out of peace work. This has been something somewhat shocking to me as in the US, any sort of nonprofit or NGO worker is generally poorly compensated and overworked often to the point of burning out from the industry entirely. In class we actually talked about how a career in peace work is seen as very respectable, and something young people gravitate towards much more so than in the US.
I will be beginning my masters degree in the field of Public Administration in late August, and this program has inspired me so much. I’ve always been passionate about peace work and a career path that is socially responsible, but I’ve struggled between my idealism and my desire to live a comfortable life. I’m beginning to see that these two values aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive, and that it just might take a bit of creativity (or moving to Norway) to achieve.