A Magazine for the George Mason University Community

Giving Peace a Chance

By Colleen Kearney Rich on April 1, 2010

Elavie Ndura

Mason education professor Elavie Ndura-Ouédraogo is passionate about peace education and believes it should be introduced in school curricula. She is using her native country of Burundi to show how such programs can be implemented. Widely published on the topic, Ndura-Ouédraogo recently contributed to 147 Practical Tips for Teaching Peace and Reconciliation (Atwood Publishing, July 2009), a guide written collaboratively with colleagues William Timpson, Edward Brantmeier, Nathalie Kees, Tom Cavanagh, and Claire McGlynn. From overcoming prejudices to emulating Quaker peace practices, this book offers practical suggestions on how to teach peace and redress violent tendencies.

How did you come to work on this project? The other authors are members of the Peace Education Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). My work in Burundi and my contributions as a presenter at the AERA conferences grabbed the attention of the project leader, William Timpson of Colorado State University, who subsequently invited me to join the team.

We then spent several months generating tips for teaching peace and reconciliation from our professional and personal experiences. We would comment and expand on the generated tips and wherever needed suggest practical classroom applications.

Do you have a favorite tip? I favor a number of tips in the volume. For now, I shall comment on Tip 26 “Being Peace: Walking the Labyrinth.” As I reread this tip, I was reminded of my first experience walking the labyrinth during a summer institute organized and funded by the Shinnyo-en Foundation in California in summer 2009. Walking the labyrinth mirrored my own long journey, which has never offered any shortcuts. I experienced newly found inner peace while walking the labyrinth, relying on my unwavering endurance and persistence to make it through the journey.

Can you tell us a little about your work in Burundi? I have conducted four research projects in Burundi since 2006. The latest project is a comparative study of community-based peace education programs and practices in Burundi and Sierra Leone. I am working with Patricia Maulden from the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution on this project. We traveled to Burundi in August 2009 to collect the first batch of data. We are currently collecting the second batch of data in Sierra Leone.

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