Student Profile: Brandon Gascho

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Brandon GaschoLike many students before him, Brandon Gascho did not start his degree enrolled in Peace and Conflict Studies. He was initially interested in becoming a therapist, and decided to take the Social Development Studies program through Renison University College. One of his first classes through this program was social policy, which he found himself enjoying more than he expected to.

After a professor suggested that he look into the PACS program, Brandon took PACS 201: Roots of Conflict, Violence, and Peace, and PACS 202: Conflict Resolution the next semester. Based on the content he was learning in these courses, Brandon’s interest in PACS was piqued, and he soon switched into a PACS degree plan. Over the course of his degree so far, PACS 331: Trauma and Healing has been his favourite course, and he feels that he learned a lot from it:

“In the past I’ve felt very uncomfortable with conflict and had trouble being assertive- but PACS has challenged the way I think about it and taught me healthy ways of engaging in conflict.”

Over the years, he has experienced paradigm shifts, as a result of classes such as PACS 313: Community Conflict Resolution. He learned how to engage with conflict in a new, healthy way. There are ways to do good through conflict that he would not have known about if not for PACS courses.

The most impactful experience that Brandon has had so far, though, was participating in the Conflict Mediation and Resolution workshops offered through PACS 391, including participating in the Peace Circles workshop. This was a four day workshop that he took while his mother was in hospice care. During that time, his mother passed on, and his perspectives on how to grieve and heal were changed by his experiences in this workshop.

“Everyone really came together in this class, which made it an emotionally impactful, life-changing experience. It impacted the way that I grieved my mom, and how I interact with my family.”

Participating in circle processes in PACS 391 gave Brandon the tools to process his grief, and showed him how to exist in the world in a new way — something he hadn’t had when he had lost his sister a few years before. The people around him might not have known exactly what he was going through, but he was able to learn from the situation and process his emotions through that time.

Brandon attributes some of the best things he's learned to letting himself not know when he was in the presence of other people. Being an older student, he often felt like he should have the answers, and it took some time for him to recognize that it was alright to just listen to and understand the perspectives of others.

As he finishes his undergraduate degree, Brandon has plans to move onto higher education with Grebel’s Masters of Peace and Conflict Studies. He has a desire to enter the PACS field, and is excited to further his education this way.

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