Video Interview with Research Fellow, Gwen Nickolaychuk


Hi, this is Kristine, Program Assistant at Outward Bound Peacebuilding. I’m here with our research fellow, Gwen, to learn more about her, her work with Outward Bound, and her environmental project with OBCP.

Hi, Kristine.

Hi, Gwen. So, for starters, can you tell us where are you from and how do you spend your free time?
I’m from Canada, from the west part of Canada, from Alberta. I grew up on a small farm in northern Alberta. But now I live and work and spend a lot of my time in the west Norwegian fjords, where I live and work. How do I spend my free time? I try to spend as much of my free time outdoors as possible. I’m really an avid hiker, skier, kayaker, but also someone who really appreciates nature and outdoors. So I don’t need to be running around doing a fast activity, but I’m pretty happy to be outdoors.

What was your first experience with Outward Bound?
First experience with Outward Bound came last February. I was on a course called Winter Touch on the Czech and Polish border and so we spent two weeks snowshoeing, tenting, and doing all kinds of interesting stuff. The Czech Outward Bound has a special way of working; they involve a lot of drama, a lot of art, and a very special way of connecting and working with people- very energetic, very surprising, a lot of game play. So I think it was a pretty strong experience or it was a strong experience and very interesting introduction to Outward Bound. It’s something I’ll never forget. And also without that experience, I wouldn’t be here today. One of my colleagues on the course is the person who put me in touch with OBCP, so that course led to a lot of interesting things.

What is about Outward Bound Peacebuilding that excites you?
Outward Bound Peacebuilding, when I think of this phrase, the word possibilities comes to mind. I think that OBCP has a very unique proposal to the area that they work in. Anybody I talk to, when I say what we do and how we do it, I only get positive response. People are very interested, curious, and surprised. I think we do very unique work. I think we have a lot of possibility within our work to affect people. It’s been a pleasure to be part of it even for a short time.

And lastly, since this is a question you ask in your research: how do you think we can benefit from paying attention to place in our courses?
I’m gonna put my glasses on because there’s something I want to read because I want to make sure I read the right point on this. When it comes to paying attention to place in our courses, one thing is we’re going to become more aware of how the place affects our participants, how does nature and place we chose, how does that affect our participants and their process of learning and the group process? I think that nature has a very strong effect. There’s a lot of studies that show it within other fields of discipline, but within peacebuilding and conflict resolution, it’s quite a new study. So I think it would be really interesting to start to document and to see how place how affected people in the process. And this is the part that I wanted to make sure I read because it’s one of main points of what I’ve been researching and studying– that I really feel by bringing participants to closer to the place, that being nature in our courses, by doing this, we’re gonna help them feel comfortable, connected, and competent in nature. We hope that, by doing this, nature becomes an environment of care for people, enough so that they want to do something to protect it in the end. But to want to protect nature and do something about it, we have to care and feel some connection to it. There’s a beautiful quote that I heard at the end of some environmental piece for kids and it said, “What they do not value they will not protect and what they do not protect they will lose.” So I hope that through paying attention to place in courses, we can start to help them value it so they can end up wanting to protect it.

Great, thanks your time, Gwen.
Thanks, Kristine. Good luck with everything.