Introduction to conflict. I was born in the United States but grew up in Jerusalem, Israel. At age 12 and at the height of the Second Intifada, my parents decided we would move to Seattle, Wash. As a child, I never inquired why Israelis and Palestinians were entangled in endless conflict.
Academic insight. It was through the field of sociology that I found my first answers. Individuals are born into social milieaus and conditions which prime them to fight for their people, land and God. I created an interdisciplinary major, “Conflict and Social Change,” to further explore the relationship between people and their environment.
Theory into practice. The question I faced was whether the knowledge I acquired—often theoretical—could become the foundation for social change. One philosophy that struck me as powerful, both academically and personally, was Buddhist philosophy. Many people associate Buddhism with lofty ideals and utopias, but Buddhism can provide the impetus for peace—no matter the environment.
Field work. I spent last summer at the Compassionate Action Network in Seattle, where I worked to strengthen the network between compassionate service agents and those that require them. I learned that in a busy metropolitan city of Seattle, empathy is the key to creative a cohesive and healthy community that would otherwise be socially isolated.
Making connections. Career Services was really helpful in navigating me through the process of finding an internship. At first, I didn’t know where I wanted to intern or in what field. I was very frustrated because I really wanted to find some work experience. They sat me down, and within a couple weeks I had narrowed down my search and applied for great internships.
Future course. The Watson Fellowship will give me a chance to see, first hand, how post-conflict movements with Buddhist philosophical foundations are effective in their peace-building efforts. Through academia, I have learned much about the world, but even more about myself. I’ve found that the best way to learn is to teach, and so, while nothing is certain now, I know I would enjoy teaching in academia.