Conrad Grebel University College
140 Westmount Road North
Waterloo, ON, Canada N2L 3G6
Since 2016, the Centre for Peace Advancement has been privileged to welcome participants from Mennonite Central Committee's International Volunteer Exchange Program (IVEP). IVEP is a year-long volunteer work and cultural exchange for young adults. Since its establishment in 1950, IVEP has emphasized peacemaking and building understanding across cultures. Alumni from this program have went on to make meaningful impacts in their home country and have held significant leadership roles within civil society and government.
Three IVEP alumni have served in the Centre for Peace Advancement, providing opportunities for learning and mutual transformation of both the participants and our Centre and community.
Socheata Poum, joining the program from Cambodia, served as inaugural Centre for Peace Advancement Host in 2016-2017. Socheata shares, “The Centre for Peace Advancement was my first exposure to a professional working environment, people there have directly or indirectly been mentors or examples to me in term of their passion, professionalism, work ethics and enthusiasm for community.”
With her interests sparked in innovation and value creation, Socheata is currently living in Wellington, New Zealand studying global management. Her IVEP experience played a major role in “getting me curious with what I can do with my skills and background to work toward something I am passionate about.”
After finishing her degree, Socheata plans to return to Cambodia to start her own social venture in Education Technology. She hopes to bridge the gap of access to digital literacy among students in the South East Asia region.
Lorenzo Fellycyano was the second IVEP participant with the Centre for Peace Advancement, joining the program in 2017-2018 from Indonesia. Lorenzo has recently finished training in Cambodia with the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church. He will soon be commissioned as a Global Mission Fellow for a two-year overseas mission service. Reflecting on his time with the Centre, Lorenzo shares, “My one year journey with the Centre for Peace Advancement broadened my worldview of non-profits and peacemaking altogether. Being connected with individuals of different backgrounds working in many unimaginable ways to foster peace, the Centre and Conrad Grebel University College equipped me with the thinking skills to creatively solve humanity's problems.”
During his mission service, Lorenzo is excited to “see how churches in Europe work together for better policies and support on the migration and refugees management.” After this experience, Lorenzo plans to pursue graduate studies in international development.
The most recent IVEP participant was Suyeon Kang from South Korea, serving in 2018-2019. After returning to South Korea, Suyeon attended the Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute (NARPI) summer training in Nanjing. NARPI aims to create space to learn about peacebuilding and to build networks among peacebuilders in Northeast Asia. “These two goals made me apply to the NARPI summer training at Nanjing in China. During my IVEP year, I learned interaction is the key in building peace. I hope to learn about peacebuilding in Northeast Asia and meet peacebuilders in this area”, Suyeon shares. “My experience with the Centre has equipped me to work for peace. I didn't think about peacebuilding before joining the Centre for Peace Advancement team, now I dream of being a peacebuilder in Korea by creatively tackling a variety of issues.”
Suyeon plans to find a job in the peacebuilding sector, where she can use her new skills, perspective and passion to make a positive change.
The Centre for Peace Advancement, and wider Conrad Grebel University College community, have been gifted with the insights, perspectives and skills of these three participants. Socheata, Lorenzo and Suyeon have been able to draw upon their unique experiences to help us build a global perspective in the work we do, and the communities we connect with.
Unfortunately, the IVEP participant planning to join the Centre for Peace Advancement team this month was denied a Canadian visa. MCC is no longer a Recognized Organization under International Experience Canada, and so applicants have been required to use a new visa category and be considered individually by Canadian embassies/consulates around the world. We hope that this change does not jeopardize our future involvement in such a transformational program.