As students and working professionals struggle to find employment in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Conrad Grebel University College and the Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement (the Centre) have increased their opportunities for meaningful work. Past and present participants can attest that the benefits of working at the Centre extend beyond the workplace.
Beginning in January, three students are working directly with the Centre as assistants for Communications, Research, and Planning, Monitoring and Evaluations. On top of this, other students are involved as PeaceTech Peer Leaders, the Map the System Campus Lead, and working under Core Collaborator organizations or ventures in the Peace Incubator. Not only do many participants return for future semesters, but employment options such as these are regularly available at the undergraduate to post-doctorate level. The Centre is committed to creating recurring student opportunities and it benefits from students’ fresh insights, increased awareness of their demographic, and skillsets from diverse disciplines.
Students working in the Centre benefit from being tapped into a hub for creativity and networking. “Both the Centre and Grebel feel like the community that I have been looking for since living in Waterloo, and being able to combine that sense of community with work that I really enjoy has been amazing” says Kirsten Mosey, fourth year Political Science student. Kirsten’s ongoing involvement in the Centre for Peace Advancement community through co-op, and resulting connection to Project Ploughshares, has also contributed to her involvement in the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs’ (UNODA) Youth Champion for Disarmament program.
Expanding my mind to the world of peacebuilding, especially with concepts such as Thinking and Working Politically and Systems Thinking, has been huge for my personal and academic development.
Devina Lookman, a recent UWaterloo graduate, first learned about the Centre through the GreenHouse program at St. Paul’s University College. She also worked as a Facilitator with The Ripple Effect Education (TREE), one of the Centre’s Core Collaborator organizations, during the final year of her Peace and Conflict Studies undergraduate degree. Since then, she has returned as TREE’s full-time Manager of Programs. For Devina, “being in various roles with TREE has meant that I get to be part of this incredible community of peacebuilders. The peace work we are all carrying out in our individual lanes can only get amplified and strengthened as a collective, and that's the significance of the Centre for Peace Advancement community.”
While completing the Master of Peace and Conflict Studies (MPACS) program at Conrad Grebel University College, Thomas Fraser participated in the 2020 Map the System pitch competition, hosted by the Centre. Today, he works on the Centre for Peace Advancement team as Map the System Campus Lead for Waterloo, applying what he learned as a student in this competition. For Thomas, “the Centre seems to embody a unique confluence of peacebuilding, activism and social innovation. Going forward, this has inspired me to continue honing my capacities in dialogue with the world around me.”
Many students such as Kirsten, Devina, and Thomas credit the Centre for guiding their careers regardless of how they initially got involved, but the appreciation is mutual. As Coordinator Michelle Jackett reflects, “we offer jobs, but what the students give back to our community of peacebuilders is unique and invaluable.”
Visit the Centre’s website to learn more about student opportunities through the Centre for Peace Advancement.