Getting A Firsthand Look

Grant Gives EMU Peacekeeping Students A Chance To Travel To Violence-Torn Countries

Posted: March 25, 2013

HARRISONBURG — A two-year, $20,000 grant will fund trips abroad to violence-torn countries for Eastern Mennonite University peacebuilding and development students.

The grant, from an Anabaptist-rooted organization called the United Service Foundation, will provide $2,000 grants to four students for the next two summers to cover credit hours, airfare and living expenses overseas. The rest of the money will cover administrative costs.

“We haven’t had a lot of opportunities for [these] students [to study overseas],” said Gloria Rhodes, who chairs the department of applied social sciences. Rhodes also is coordinator of the undergraduate peacebuilding and development major, which was created in fall 2009.

“They can do that, but it’s always at their own expense,” she said. “This allows us the opportunity to offer to a select number of students this possibility of going with very little cost to them and that is very exciting.”

The university now has 45 students majoring in peacebuilding and development. They must complete practicums, where they experience and put into practice what they’ve learned in classes in the real world.

Before this year, students typically completed the practicums in Washington, D.C., through the school’s Washington Community Scholars’ Center, an internship program.

For summer 2013, juniors Carlos Romero and Krista Rittenhouse will go to Colombia, where 30 years of internal conflict have created a large number of internally displaced people and marked economic disparities, according to an EMU press release.

In Colombia, Rittenhouse will interview people displaced by civil strife and document their stories, while Romero will work in a slum populated by displaced people where gangs and paramilitaries are prevalent.

Senior Corben Boshart will travel to Iraq to take classes on Islam and observe an interfaith conference.

A fourth student has yet to be chosen.

Rhodes said the trips will fit into EMU’s mission to give students a broad range of educational experiences that take them out of their comfort zone and help them learn about other cultures.

 “This program fits directly with EMU’s ... mission of educating students to serve and lead in a global context,” she said.

Contact Emily Sharrer at 574-6286 or

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