Each May, students journey to distant locales in an effort to
connect with communities around the globe that are dealing with
conflict and pain. By immersing themselves in unfamiliar situations
of hardship, students make personal transformations, gaining depth,
lasting understanding and respect for each other and for other
of Reconciliation" began in 1985 to promote relationships between
Emory and communities with histories of violence and exploitation.
The program existed first only at Oxford, but it has since grown
to encompass both campuses and now operates under the Office of
journeys have taken students and staff in the past to such faraway
destinations as South Africa, Northern Ireland, Bolivia and Cuba,
but this past summer the focus was on America. Students sought
to uncover the meaning of America by traveling to the Texas/Mexico
border, the Mississippi Delta, Appalachia and to Cheyenne and Crow
reservations in Montana. In 2004 the destinations are Mexico, Bosnia
and South Africa.
Simpson, who coordinates the project, said the journeys Emory makes
are not mission or service trips, but "opportunities to build lasting
and trusting relationships with host communities."
go in not as self-proclaimed experts who have come to fix a problem,
but to talk and to listen to what people have to say," Simpson
said. "We are there to build relationships, and that often takes
fact, next year's trip to South Africa will mark the fourth time
that country has been visited since the program's inception; over
the years program coordinators have developed a strong relationship
with the South African host community. The other two destinations
for the year, Mexico and Bosnia, will be first-time visits for
the program, beginning a new cycle of relationship building.
select our destinations based on the contacts Emory has and plan
trips accordingly," Simpson said. "We were able to plan the Bosnia
trip this year because we have a third-year theology student who
has done extensive reconciliation work with youth centers there,
and from him we've learned a great deal and have been able to coordinate
a great trip."
to 15 students usually go on each trip, with two to four faculty
and staff members accompanying them. The program is open to all
students, not solely those interested in religion.
actively seek participates from all across the University--we want
diversity and varying disciplines represented in each group," Simpson
trips will be held May 12-26, 2004, immediately following the end
of spring semester.
focus of the Bosnia trip will be on the massive economic, health,
environmental and social problems that have arisen since the community
began its rebuilding process following the ethnic and religious
war fought in the early 1990s. Participants will meet with government
officials, community representatives and local leaders working
to build peace and understanding among youth of different religious
and ethnic backgrounds.
second new destination on the list is Mexico, where students will
visit Mexico City and Oaxaca to explore the complexities of the
program will focus on the connections between the affluent "American" lifestyle
and the lifestyle of Mexican citizens whose labor often supports
that affluence. Students will experience both the urban culture
of Mexico City, and the rural scene of Oaxaca.
final journey, to South Africa, will look at the post-apartheid
community, focusing on education reform and the AIDS epidemic.
It will involve trips to elementary schools, visits with both majority
white and all-black church congregations, visits to universities,
and talks with political leaders.
hope is that by making these journeys, students will emerge as
more thoughtful and caring citizens," Simpson said. "They come
back with powerful images of poverty and desperation, but also
said he has seen the lasting effects such journeys have had on
students. One who made the trip to Appalachia plans to write a
children's book to help children in that region. Another who visited
Montana last summer plans to return as an educator.
images students return with have lingering effects. They are not
always easy to measure, but they're definitely there," he said.
deadline to apply for the 2004 Journeys of Reconciliation is Nov.
14. Program costs range from $1,500 to $2,200 and are all-inclusive,
covering airfare, accommodations and meals. Some forms of need-based
financial aid are available. An information session will be
held Wednesday, Nov. 5, in the Dobbs Center faculty dining room
at 5:30 p.m. Staff and faculty spots have been filled, but interested
undergraduate and graduate students should contact Tom Simpson
(Emory) at 404-712-9102 or Judy Shema (Oxford) at 770-784-8392.