March Student Profile: Practical Peacemaking with Katie Gingerich

Monday, March 24, 2014

This is the third installment of a monthly feature on the PACS website. This monthly profile of PACS and MPACS students will give a small snapshot into the pursuits and experiences of our PACS students.

Katie GingerichKatie, a 3rd year PACS student from St. Agatha, enjoys practical peacemaking and has developed a passion for teaching others about peace. This year she has been hired as the Peace Camp Coordinator for Conrad Grebel’s annual Peace Camp, a week long day camp for youth finished grades 6-8. Peace Camp is a meaningful summer camp opportunity for kids, helping them understand the world around them and gain practical peacemaking skills. The theme for this year’s camp is “Epic Peace: Turning the World Upside Down,” which is about challenging what we think about peace in society, breaking down the walls we build up and seeing what’s on the other side.

Katie is excited to use the knowledge she’s gained in the PACS program to teach youth through Peace Camp. When asked about what she wants to accomplish, she replied

Sometimes, when we talk about peace in University, we get theoretical and heady and postmodern, but kids don’t think like that. I want to be able to leave ‘academic Katie’ in class and be able to bring tangible meaning to kids. 

Fun is also a top priority; her philosophy is that kids should have fun first, and hopefully learn something along the way. Whether through fun games, teaching about peace skills such as communication and active listening, or planning field trips into the community to understand how poverty works, Katie’s mission is to make peace real for these youth through exciting and engaging activities.

This isn’t the first time Katie has taught peace skills at a summer camp. Last summer, Katie completed a PACS Field Study by teaching peace curriculum at Hidden Acres Mennonite Camp. Teaching peace through games, activities, and stories, Katie focused her lessons on the importance of relationships in solving problems. One of her favourite stories she told was from a book entitled Enemy Pie by Derek Munson, about a kid whose father offered to make him an “enemy pie” to feed to his “enemy.” The boy hoped that the pie would be made of awful ingredients and would do horrific things to his “enemy.”  His dad told him that before they ate the pie, they had to play together for the afternoon. When they finally got to eat the pie, the boy saw this “enemy” as a friend and doesn’t want to feed him a nasty pie anymore. Of course the Dad knew this would happen and it turned out to be a normal, tasty pie! This story was Katie’s favourite because it exemplifies how relationships can humanize the other person and have the potential to break down barriers.

This year, Katie has also been involved as the leader of the PACS Living-Learning Program at Grebel, a group available to first year students living in the Grebel residence who plan to major in PACS. Leading Live-Learn has been a blast for her, and she loves being a mentor to first year aspiring PACS students. Katie loves seeing how they’re all passionate about different things and have their own approaches to peace, but love learning together in a group. They’ve done a variety of activities together, such as volunteering at the Peace and Justice Studies Association Conference, going to see the “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” documentary, sitting together at Community Supper, study sessions, and more.

Katie decided to study PACS because she was interested in social justice issues and wanted to learn more about what she could do to make the world a little better. As she’s studied PACS, she’s realized that she’s really passionate about interpersonal conflict and achieving peace through relationship. One of her favourite classes has been Trauma Healing, which taught her that no matter what conflict you’ve been through or what your position was in the conflict, healing is a process. After finishing her undergrad, Katie hopes to be able to work with people, whether through teaching youth or working directly with people affected by conflict. When Katie’s not busy organizing peace camp or mentoring living-learning students, she enjoys sharing tea or coffee with a friend, spending quality time with family, playing board games, and reading for pleasure.