Majors: History and Peace Studies
Hometown: Lexington, Kentucky
Why did you choose peace studies?
I chose peace studies to gain a more global perspective. For my history major, I specialize in the American context, but my studies of the past are complemented by peace studies’ interdisciplinary view of contemporary international relations. The name ‘peace studies’ also implies that widespread peace is present and possible. We often study the world’s problems — conflict, violence, and injustice — but we are also challenged to think up solutions.
What has been your favorite course so far and why?
It’s hard to pick a favorite Peace Studies Course, but the “Askesis of Nonviolence” with Professor Pfeil really stood out to me. As a sophomore, I felt stuck in the “Notre Dame bubble,” and this course required us to spend several hours a week volunteering in the South Bend community. My trips to the South Bend Center for the Homeless to help adults with GED prep or job applications got me out of my comfort zone and illustrated how nonviolence is a spiritual commitment.
Have there been any highlights from your time studying abroad?
I’ve had many wonderful experiences traveling abroad thanks to Notre Dame funding, but for me the summer I went to Nepal to participate in Madrasa Discourses was really special. It was essentially my first time traveling out of the country alone. The discourses are a series of conferences to help young Islamic religious leaders to confront questions about modern science, gender relations, technology, and philosophy. I engaged in intercultural dialogue with young, Islamic religious leaders and had many conversations I will never forget.
I bonded closely with my Pakistani roommate over our love of fashion, even though I’m an American hipster with bleach blonde hair and she is a scholar who dons a niqab in public. She even let me try on her gown and veil for the final session. I was nervous initially, but gained courage by recognizing that my roommate’s gown was her form of self-expression, like my own wardrobe. From then on, I resolved to include as many cross-cultural experiences into my Notre Dame experience as possible.