Emory Students Will Take Journeys of Reconciliation To Cuba, Northern Ireland, Bolivia, Native American Reservations
Four interfaith groups of Emory University students are going to Cuba, Bolivia, Northern Ireland and two Native American reservations during May, meeting with community leaders educators and religious groups and attempting to understand the roots of conflict and ways those rifts are being healed.
Called "Journeys of Reconciliation," the trips take students outside the insular world of a university campus to make connections with far-flung communities. The goal is to cultivate relationships of collaboration, learning, partnerships, service opportunities and friendships with communities around the world that are working toward reconciliation, says Susan Henry-Crowe, dean of the chapel and religious life, whose office sponsors the trips.
Henry-Crowe says her office "is committed to fostering inter-religious relationships, understandings and conversation. As students come to understand and respect difference, they can begin to articulate creative and constructive ways to address root causes of misunderstanding and conflict."
More than a dozen students and staff will travel to Cuba May 17-26 to meet with community leaders, universities and religious groups to explore how they might develop partnerships to support the work of reconciliation within the country.
Health and healing will be the focus for the dozen students and staff traveling to Bolivia May 17-31. They will partner with Andean Rural Healthcare, an organization that provides health care to rural areas of Bolivia. The Emory group will be building part of a medical clinic, help in some health clinics and meet with local community members and religious organizations.
The group traveling to Northern Ireland May 15-30 will be partnering with political leaders, religious groups, community centers and community leaders from across the six partitioned counties comprising Northern Ireland. As in past years, they will discuss how to support the work of communities and individuals working for reconciliation, Lauren Cogswell, an assistant chaplain at Emory.
The fourth journey will take students and staff to Crow and Northern Cheyenne reservations in the vicinity of Billings, Mont., May 19-29. The group will meet with health care providers, tribal police and area business and civic leaders to learn more about the history, culture and current issues faced by these Native American communities.
The students' journeys begin with preparatory sessions prior to the trips that cover economics, religion, culture, politics, foreign policy, reconciliation and justice issues and history. Students and staff escorts (consisting of chaplains, faculty and campus life staff) also meet regularly beforehand to discuss their goals in relating to the communities they'll encounter.
"Several students' experiences with different religious communities abroad have spurred them to recommit to their own religious communities here at home," says Cogswell. "I see so many students coming home from these trips changed. They're not just concerned about their own success in the world anymore; they're considering how their gifts can serve the needs of the world."
Note to editors: A list of participants and their religious affiliations is available.
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