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Jeide and Soares: 2017 Peace Scholars

Anna+Jeide+%28%E2%80%9816%29+and+Billy+Jeide+%28%E2%80%9818%29+during+a+camping+trip.
Anna Jeide (‘16) and Billy Jeide (‘18) during a camping trip.

Anna Jeide (‘16) and Billy Jeide (‘18) during a camping trip.

Photo courtesy of Anna Jeide (‘16)

Photo courtesy of Anna Jeide (‘16)

Anna Jeide (‘16) and Billy Jeide (‘18) during a camping trip.

Shasa Sartin, Staff Writer

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The 2017 Peace Scholars were announced the weekend of Feb. 11. This year’s Peace Scholars are Billy Jeide (‘18) and Bakhita Goncalves Soares (‘18). They will spend seven weeks this summer engaging in peace-driven education in Lillehammer and Oslo, Norway. Each student also receives a scholarship that covers the academic experience.

This was the first year that Associate Professor of History and Director of the Center for Ethics and Public Engagement (CEPE) Victoria Christman headed the application and decision process. Christman sees the program as very valuable to its participants.

“It really is the experience of a lifetime,” Christman said.

Christman was responsible for overseeing the logistics of the application process. The students were chosen by a decision committee comprised of faculty members on the Honors Committee. Faculty involved in the decision process include Associate Dean and Director of Faculty Development Jeffrey Wilkerson, Associate Professor of Linguistics Laurie Zaring, Associate Professor of Chemistry Claude Mertzenich, and Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies and Political  Science Rachel Brummel.

“The criteria for selecting these students is that they must be academically strong enough to make the most of the opportunities,” Christman said. “[They must be] thinking of pursuing a vocation in which such experiences will be beneficial.”

Photo courtesy of Bahkita Soares (‘18)
Bahkita Soares (‘18) and fellow classmates in the White House in Washington D.C.

Soares and Jeide both expressed the importance of strengthening their ability to engage in peaceful dialogue after Luther. Soares plans to continue an initiative headed by 2016 Peace Scholar Betsy Fawcett (‘17) regarding Luther’s social climate while in Norway.

“We are thinking about bridging the relationship between domestic students and international students,” Soares said. “We are trying to find ways to connect them all together again. That is the point of having us [international students] here, so we can learn from American culture and Americans can learn from our cultures.”

When she leaves Luther, Soares wants to return to East Timor and implement what she has learned about peaceful dialogue. She knows firsthand how easy it can be to choose conflict over peace.

“We had [a] civil war in 2006,” Soares said. “Many Timorese students want to find different ways that we can learn about how to build peace in our own countries, or even our own communities wherever we go.”

Soares also wants to work on sustainable development planning, drawing from her environmental policy major and her role in the Peace Scholars program.

Soares is also excited to return to Norway since attended high school at an United World College high school in Flekke, Norway.

“The high school itself was about Red Cross,” Soares said. “So we were really about humanitarianism and helping other people.”

In 2014 Jeide traveled to Peru with American Youth Leadership Program (AYLP) influencing him in his desire to work in South America after Luther. Jeide found that crafting the required 1,000-word essay expanded his understanding of peace studies.

“[While writing] I found that peace studies was even more interconnected with what I want to do than I initially thought,” Jeide said. “The greatest need that I see in the world is to move our societies towards a more environmentally conscious way of living.”

Jeide acknowledges that western ideals are often forced onto non-western communities in conversations surrounding development.

“I want to be in a [work] space that is environmentally friendly but also culturally sensitive,” Jeide said.

Soares and Jeidi encourage Luther students to apply for this opportunity in the coming years.

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