When I applied for the first Practicum in 2012, I had very little understanding of peacebuilding throughout the world and was not nearly as engaged politically and socially with the world as I am now. However, after meeting so many movers and shakers in their respective fields, I began to understand our connection and need for each other. What was so great about Practicum was the diversity of our group and that is why the lessons I learned and the people I met continue to shape my daily life, regardless of how often we talk. Peacebuilding with my OB family has happened for me not just in the jungles of Costa Rica, but with my fellow Practicum alums at conferences in Florida in bars in NYC, in the presence of the Dalai Lama or over Skype or e-mail. Each time I reconnect, whether digitally or in person, I find myself refocused on my role in the bigger picture. I’ve never felt more supported or empowered as I did with my Practicum group and I still lean on them when I am lacking direction or motivation. We joked that “What happens in Costa Rica stays in Costa Rica” but what is so important is that it DOES NOT stay in Costa Rica. The beauty of our vastness is also our biggest hurdle – we must remain connected across race, gender, religion, sexual orientation and nationality. While our trek may have ended ages ago, our Practicum course never truly ends. We are fighting the good fight – peacebuilders are brilliant and inspiring. We need each other now, perhaps more than ever.
With love to both my original PEP family and the extended OB Peacebuilding family,
– Shannon Dobrovolny, PEP 2013