BLUFFTON STUDENTS TALK PEACEMAKING AT UN SEMINAR
Six Bluffton University students were among more than 30 students from Mennonite institutions who met in New York City Oct. 27-29 for a conference focused on peacemaking in countries plagued by conflict.
"Constructing Nationhood: Civil Society, National Government, and the International Community" was the theme of this year’s Mennonite Central Committee United Nations Office Seminar. The annual conference—attended by Bluffton students every year since it began 16 years ago—aims to raise awareness of important world issues.
Participating students heard lectures and discussions on peacemaking and on various conflicts, including those between Israel and the Palestinians and between Sudan and newly independent South Sudan, which joined the U.N. in July. "Our group considered the best way to move a country from failing state to a healthy, independent and sustainable country," said Shawn Yoder, a Bluffton senior from Plain City, Ohio.
The conference was held in the MCC U.N. office, across the street from U.N. headquarters. "Throughout the conference, we were able to look out the large windows directly behind the presenters and see the U.N. Secretariat building and flag line plaza," said Rudi Kauffman, an assistant professor of restorative justice at Bluffton who accompanied the students.
Kauffman added that he thought the conference was successful in opening the students to new ideas. "I believe the outcome among the students was a clarification of what a faithful response to God’s call for peacemaking might look like," he said. "This seemed to be successful, as students from our group and from the broader conference seemed to be interested in applying the knowledge to careers in development" where they could address processes of change in societies or issues of concern to developing countries.
Yoder applied to attend because of his interest in the U.N. And the experience left a lasting impression, he said, noting that "it further ingrained the desire to be nonviolent into my belief system."
Helping fund the group’s trip were several campus organizations—the Social Work Club, Pi Delta honor society, the Women’s Council and the Peace Education and Action Community Endeavor (PEACE) Club.
Ariel Shuey, Bluffton public relations, 11/11/11