Kathe Pribyl Pierdinock is a Junior from Riverside, Illinois, majoring in Anthropology and with minors in Peace Studies, Studio Art, and Education, Schooling, and Society. This summer, Kathe had a unique experience of staying at Corrymeela, a center for reconciliation in Northern Ireland.
At Corrymeela, Kathe attended the “Nurturing Hope” Summer School program where she was taught the new, “Nurturing Hope” curriculum. In addition, the organizers also brought in people to lecture about conflicts in Colombia, North Korea and Northern Ireland. Kathe also got to better understand the role of storytelling in peacebuilding.
“I learned about how to foster hope in conflict settings through identifying scapegoats and through the power of storytelling,” Kathe recalled her experience, “I also learned a lot about how the Northern Ireland conflict emerged and was able to compare that particular case to other places like Colombia.”
For Kathe, her stay in Northern Ireland allowed her to combine her own background with the new skills and knowledge she obtained during the summer.
“I was challenged a lot to think about my own personal experiences and how I have responded to conflict situations,” she reflected. “I was really inspired by all the storytelling from the people in the Corrymeela community because they were extremely vulnerable.”
While in Northern Ireland, the student was able to visit youth organizations and compare them with the organizations in the United States, whose work is very different. These visits helped Kathe strengthen her knowledge of education in different settings and was an important learning point for her as she wants to teach after she graduates.
“I am fascinated with education and how it works,” Kathe said. “My experience has shaped me to think about how education and youth centers work in other countries, and I hope to continue to learn about education in conflict situations.”
Kathe explained that her introduction to the world of Peace Studies was a lucky accident.
“I took the Intro to Peace Studies course on a whim and have not looked back since,” she recalled. “I love how real Peace Studies is in comparison to my other coursework because we learn how to solve problems in pragmatic ways. I also love all of my Kroc professors. They are truly incredible because they are all extremely experienced and compassionate.”
Kathe hopes that her Peace Studies experience can help her during her future career in education as this is where she sees herself as a peacebuilder, and where she hopes to do most good toward peace and conflict transformation.