MCC Student Seminar
Students explore nonviolent peacekeeping at MCC UN
BLUFFTON, Ohio—Interested in exploring nonviolent peacekeeping methods, six Bluffton University students attended the Mennonite Central Committee United Nations Student Seminar in New York City Oct. 23-25.
Held at the MCC UN office across the street from UN headquarters, this year’s conference focused on UN peacekeeping work—done with armed soldiers as peacekeepers—and on unarmed/nonviolent efforts such as Nonviolent Peaceforce and Christian Peacemaker Teams.
Cincin Akanya, a Bluffton senior from Nigeria, noted her prior understanding of peacekeeping as always solving violence with violence. “I’ve been enlightened,” she said, “because MCC focuses on holistic healing and not just individual healing.”
Seeing a war on education in northern Nigeria, Akanya wondered if there was another way to resolve the conflict. “We just want peace now and that’s been through war, but it is not working,” she said. After attending the seminar, Akanya suggested informing her generation about nonviolent actions, like mediation, as a step in the right direction.
Katie Conrad, a junior from New Carlisle, Ohio, and Southside Mennonite Church in Springfield, Ohio, has been familiar with MCC. During the seminar, she was exposed to the option of a nonviolent, armed military overseen by the UN.
Conrad considered peacekeeping on two different levels: person-to-person through grassroots organizations and systematically through international law and policies. “Both are effective methods, and both are needed to resolve conflicts,” she said.
While the UN sends armed forces to help resolve conflict, Akanya added that she “loved that MCC took the extra step to help those involved in traumatic events with therapeutic sessions after conflicts were resolved.”
Both agreed that MCC often gives voice to those who do not have a voice in conflict situations.
Emily Kolezynski, a junior from Strongsville, Ohio; Nnenna Onwukeme, a senior from Nigeria; Luz Varela, a junior from Goshen, Ind.; and Kiera Fenwick, a junior from St. Marys, Ohio, also attended the conference under the supervision of Dr. Paul Neufeld Weaver, an associate professor of education at Bluffton.
Bluffton students have attended the conference for 18 years. Several campus organizations helped fund this year’s group, including Student Senate, Women’s Council and the Pi Delta society.