Creating change and building peace, one co-op term at a time

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Kirsten looks over her shoulder while surrounded by graphics for Project Ploughshares, the United Nations, and the Centre.
From January to April 2021, the Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement’s three-time returning co-op student took on a different kind of role. Kirsten Mosey’s fourth and final co-op term with the Centre emerged through the connections she made during her previous semesters as a Communications Assistant and Incubator Fellow. This winter, Mosey spent most of her time with Project Ploughshares, culminating her co-op experience as a Research Assistant for this Core Collaborator. Mosey accomplished a lot of research and growth during her time with Ploughshares, and the staff at the Centre are extremely proud to have worked with her once again.

Hear about similar student experiences in Impact beyond the workplace.

While student recruitment ramps up for fall 2021, Mosey reflects on her one-of-a-kind role with Ploughshares through the Centre:

As a Research Assistant with Project Ploughshares and the Centre for Peace Advancement, I spent my final co-op term honing my research and writing skills. Much of my work included diving deep into topics that I am passionate about in forced migration and peace security. Taking what I’ve learned, I worked on crafting cohesive stories that highlight the important features of each issue and why we should care about it. Of course, each writing piece went through rounds of revision from myself and the team at Project Ploughshares to ensure everything was just right prior to publication.

These skills, while taught in university and learned experientially throughout this co-op term, are also life lessons that I carry from my time with the Centre for Peace Advancement as a whole. Over the past two years, I have held three different roles with the Centre – Communications Assistant, Incubator Fellow, and now, Research Assistant.

Each role taught me something new about the Centre, and more importantly, about the world of peacebuilding and how I fit into the story.

The ‘research’ phase of my journey with the Centre began just over two years ago, when I was a co-op student with a different department at the University of Waterloo. I discovered the Centre while compiling data about various innovation programs available through the University, and was compelled to learn more about the Centre’s unique model of peace innovation. I took a meeting with the Centre for Peace Advancement team to hear about the Centre’s rich history, and found myself excited about this corner of Conrad Grebel University College.

When it came time to search for my next co-op job, I jumped at the chance to work as the Centre’s Communications Assistant. Luckily enough, I was chosen for the role and dove headfirst into the world of peace innovation. My task for the first two weeks of the term was to prepare for the 5th anniversary celebration. Scouring over photographs, headlines, posters, and important milestones, I can safely say I became somewhat of a Centre for Peace Advancement expert!

At this point in my journey, I began to craft a story of the Centre for Peace Advancement - both for my work as Communications Assistant, but also as a way to find a place for myself in the narrative. Taking every opportunity to learn more about the work being done at the Centre, I learned that peacebuilding presents itself in a myriad of ways: artistic expression, technology, teaching, community advocacy, humanitarian aid, banking, and more. Near the end of my term, I started to describe myself as a peacebuilder and changemaker because I was so inspired by the work being done by those around me.

Drawing on my passion of working with refugees and forced migration issues, I decided to branch out and focus on the broader systemic conversation about the intersection between peace, security and humanitarian issues. The United Nations Youth Champions for Disarmament program presented the perfect opportunity for this new focus. I applied with the Centre’s support and encouragement, and eventually found myself among 9 other passionate young people looking to make a change in the world.

For more about Mosey’s work with the United Nations, read: From UWaterloo to the UN: A student’s journey with education and activism or Waterloo student is one of ten global UN Youth Champions.   

Through my advocacy for a systemic lens in forced migration, an opportunity arose to work with Project Ploughshares, a leading peace and security research institute housed at the Centre for Peace Advancement. This role once again revised my focus, as I was able to concentrate on the “why” of disarmament by honing in on the human cost of war and conflict. Now, at the end of my term, I have explored the impact of COVID-19 on refugees, the Safe Third Country Agreement, Canada’s moral deficit in Yemen, and the complex Libyan-Italian migration route. I also had the opportunity to reflect on my initial foray into humanitarian work through an interview with an aid worker in Camp Moria. Working in Camp Moria on the island of Lesvos, Greece nearly 5 years ago, I never imagined that I would eventually find myself embedded in a community like the Centre for Peace Advancement, writing about the exact issues I am so passionate about. 

Reflecting on how I got to this point in my life and journey as a changemaker brings me back to the importance of those three main skills I have learned over my time with the Centre. By diving deep with research, positioning myself in the rich story of peacebuilding, and revising my role and passions time and time again, I can say with absolute certainty that I would not be where I am today if I had never stepped foot in the Centre for Peace Advancement.

The Centre for Peace Advancement regularly hires co-op students, and will be recruiting an incoming Communications Assistant for the fall 2021 semester. Visit Student Opportunities, WaterlooWorks, or follow the Centre on LinkedIn to learn about upcoming job openings.