Peace Day 10Peace Day 6Peace Day 1Peace Day 2By Carlee Berkenkemper

Elm Staff Writer

What does peace mean to you?

Is peace a personal goal that can be reached introspectively? Is it something learned by studying the past? What does world peace look like?

In the First Year Seminar, I Ain’t Gonna Study War No’More, Washington College students are answering these questions by analyzing everything from conflict mediation to activism throughout history, while learning about how peace can be achieved on a global scale, as well as in their own lives.

The seminar enables students to, in a field of their interest, cultivate critical inquiry skills such as researching, writing, revising, and presenting to prepare for the continuation of their college careers.

According to the course description for I Ain’t Gonna Study War No’More, the class teaches students “to listen deeply to history, learning from activists across the global movements for peace” by using “research methods in oral and public history to foster compassionate dialogue, and examine techniques in conflict mediation and social justice to build capacity.”

Freshman Iyonna Young reflected upon why she wanted to enroll in I Ain’t Gonna Study War No’More.

“I chose this FYS because I felt as if it would allow me to have a more optimistic outlook on life and situations that occurred throughout history,” she said.

This is well in line with the learning goals of the course, designed by professor Erica Fugger, an oral historian at WC’s Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience.

A graduate of Columbia University’s Oral History master’s program, leading this FYS is Fugger’s first experience teaching at a collegiate level.

During her time at the Starr Center, Fugger has served as an archivist and ambassador for the Center’s National Home Front Project, which collects local and national oral histories about the American Homefront experience during World War II.

Fugger spoke to how the class became an answer to the work she does at the Starr Center.

“Hearing all of these very important and influential experiences of warfare, I wanted to teach a class that kind of looked at the other side of that — that is, all of the important activism that’s happened over the past 100-plus years surrounding peace,” she said.

In order to tackle the ambiguous question of what peace really means, students recently had the opportunity to apply their critical inquiry skills through experiential learning.

Friday, Sept. 21 was International Peace Day, a United Nations-sanctioned holiday, this year focused on celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

While some students conducted a peace-related oral history project on campus, others traveled to New York City to look further into the broad definition of peace and what peace looks like in oneself, in community, and across the world.

Those who stayed on campus stationed themselves in Hodson Hall with video cameras and a list of prepared interview questions, including, “What does peace mean to the WC community?”

“Perspectives of peace have been repetitive,” Young said, after engaging in discussions with other WC students outside of her FYS class. “The common response has been that peace starts with oneself.”

WC students who traveled to New York conducted their interviews at the International House of New York with the Davis Projects for Peace Fellows. The fellows are a group of New York-based college students from around the world who have been awarded grants to carry out their programs of social justice.

The WC students also followed the NYC Peace Trail, a trek mapped out by a New York University class who conducted research regarding different sites in the city that stand as symbols of peace or are historic places of activism.

Their journey concluded in Union Square, the site of numerous protests throughout history. There, students participated in a global peace beam, group mediation, and added a collective energy to a place known for community organization.

“It’s really important I think,” Fugger said, “to have an FYS that allows you to be introspective and encourages students to start thinking about what kind of impact they want to have on the world and what kind of lifestyle they want to lead. I wanted to do that as soon as they step foot on campus.”

All interviews will be curated on the class YouTube channel, “Peace Is Not Passive,” and archived through the Starr Center Oral History Program’s Peace Collection.

“I am excited for the students in my FYS class to explore diverse perspectives on peace through their interviews on Peace Day and the oral histories they will be conducting with social movement leaders this fall,” Fugger said.

Both their research into social movement leaders and the archived interviews will be the basis for students’ final project, a creative community performance titled “The Be-In: Voices & Performances of Peace” that will be open for public viewing in the Egg on Dec. 6, time to be announced.

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