A New Generation of Peacebuilders
Adib Babaei - Current UCI Student
Adib is currently studying abroad in Sciences Po (Paris Institute of Political Science), Paris, France for the fall semester of 2016. Adib transferred to UCI in 2015 and became a member of Students for Global Peacebuilding. He relates, "I had the amazing opportunity to expand my knowledge on modern peacebuilding and comprehensive solutions that incorporate students along with members of our community." Adib was involved in Peace & Justice Week 2016 as the Social Media Coordinator to assist planning and organizing the events and also reach out to the community to raise awareness and promote the events planned for the week. "Since joining SGP, I have been able to improve my leadership skills and build a greater network in the specific field of International Relations, and also apply them in Paris and my future academic career."
Ismael Canizalez - Current UCI Student
Ismael is a current UCI Student and has been a member of SGP since January 2015; "Though in time I’ve only spent a fraction of my life with these motived and inspiring peacebuilders, I feel like I have known some of them for ages. Through hard times and tough challenges, personal through international, the Students for Global Peacebuilding have always encouraged creative ways of helping our community members reimagine peace." Ismael worked as a peer mediator and assisted in Peace and Justice Week. He expresses gratitude for the experiential opportunities the CCPB and SGP afforded him this way, "Not everyone is given an opportunity to help teach peers about mediation and experience the art behind teaching. Nor is it every day (though it should be) that one interacts with students living in a place with an ongoing conflict during class. Not every day does someone have the opportunity to experience a conflict zone and come back to school understanding the important need for civic engagement; SGP does that and so much more. Thanks to the generosity and values of the CCPB, I found my community with SGP and creative ways of transforming the one back home. Think Global, Act Local. This seems to be the theme for civic engagement. CCPB and SGP taught me that by solving my own conflict first, I can be more readily accessible to others. [Where I am from], gang conflict is a subcultural phenomenon difficult for law enforcement to resolve, ... through the CCPB, I learned about 'Peace Officers' who can transform, rather than resolve, this issue.
Lyn Phan - Graduated 2016
Lyn Phan was active with Students for Global Peacebuilding her senior year at UCI. Since graduating from UCI this past spring, Lyn took some time off to travel to Vietnam. While there, she witnessed and thought more critically about the impact of rapid economic development at the international and domestic level. She is currently researching opportunities in Vietnam to explore more deeply the issue of economic development and its impact on communities that lack the resources to adapt. She feels strongly that, "SGP provided me the framework to recognize the complexities of such issues." Though a part of the organization for only a short period of time, Lyn expresses that, "SGP gave me the confidence to pursue professional interests as well as helped me to understand my own strengths as a leader as well as a team player." She adds, "What I really enjoyed and appreciated most was the collaborative nature of the organization. I found my fellow members to be passionate and hard working, which made it easy for me to have the desire to contribute to the different facets of SGP."
Dagmawit Mengestu - Graduated 2016
After graduation Dagmawit moved back to Northern California, and since then she has been applying for jobs, and studying for the GREs. She explains, "SGP has had a big impact on me that will last well after college. Being a part of a student organization like SGP, where I was motivated to ask questions and learn from my peers, made me appreciate the environment it created." She adds, "Before I joined SGP, I didn't have serious plans to work in conflict resolution and mediation. But after going to workshops and events organized by SGP, my interest in that field grew immensely. I was not aware that conflict resolution was a career path, and because of SGP and Dr. Paula Garb, I have discovered a world in which I can turn my passion into a tangible outcome."
Michael Levy - Graduated 2016
Michael held leadership roles and was a member of SGP for over two years. Since graduating from UCI, he has taken some time to reflect and determine what he wants out of a career going forward into post graduate life. A few months ago he decided that a career as a LAPD police officer would align most with his goals and values, and since then he has begun the lengthy application process. Michael found working with SGP to be an enriching experience. Most importantly, he says, "SGP has provided experiences in which I have learned to think critically about issues." He credits SGP for helping him become an effective communicator. "SGP's discussion based methods of reaching decisions together has encouraged me to voice my opinions in a constructive way." This, in addition to various programs he participated in, such as AVP and conflict resolution workshops for UCI Housing, and traveling to Costa Rica for the pilot Global PEACE Program helped him develop in this area. Lastly, Michael expresses that his experience in SGP has "cemented my desire to do meaningful work in my life." "Though I do not share the same passion for research and education as many of my colleagues in SGP, I believe that the core lessons and mission of SGP can be and should be carried out in all career paths. I envision myself working to bridge the gap between civil society and law enforcement and I hope SGP and CCPB will be able to aid in this long term goal."
Kay Nguyen - Graduated 2016
Kay graduated from UCI in June 2016 with a major in International Studies and a minor in Conflict Resolution. She credits her experience in SGP and several classes taken with Professor Garb as inspiring her to choose CR as a minor. Kay help leadership roles and was a member of SGP for over 2 years. Through SGP and CCPB, the various workshops she participated in that provided basic training on conflict resolution, such as the AVP workshop and SGP's "Difficult Conversations Made Easy" workshop, have positively affected her professional and personal life. She is currently studying for the GRE, and planning to apply to a Masters program in International Education. She acknowledges that it was through her personal experience with the Global Peace Program in Costa Rica, studying abroad, and the USAID for Caucasus project, that she realized her passion for international education. "I want to help promote studying abroad, and experiential learning programs especially for underrepresented college students." "As a first-generation college student, it was not entirely expected of or easy for me to participate in those programs often due to the lack of knowledge and support. However, my involvement with SGP and CCPB encouraged and helped me make the most out of my college experience by giving me the chance to experience education beyond the UCI campus. I'm extremely grateful for the opportunities that SPG and the CCPB family have provided for students at UCI, and within the local as well as the international peacebuilding community."
Nayiri Partamian - Graduated 2015
After graduating from UC Irvine in 2015 and after being part of the SGP family for almost two years, Nayiri had aspirations to do the Fulbright in Austria as an assistant museum coordinator, finish a masters at USC, then go on to law school at USC. Although the first two options did not work out, she decided to take an internship with the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) in Los Angeles and then in Washington D.C., as a lobbyist and campaign organizer for the primaries. Now she is working at her family's business and has become devoted to meditation. She is applying to the USC Gould School of Law. In her words, she is "fast-forwarding my main career goal, leaving Fulbright and a Masters as an option that is always open for the future." She explains that, "being with the SGP family has not only provided me with an extra family, but has made me realize that we as global citizens take so many things for granted." "SGP has made me a better Armenian, learning how to deal with conflict and political emotions, separating my emotional responses from my logical ones in political dialogue." Nadir acknowledges although her career may not be directly related to peace, she has always found a way to incorporate peace in her life, through meditation, yoga and learning to listen to others when they speak instead of just thinking of a response. She sees a role for SGP and CCPB in helping our community by expanding the interest of peacebuilding to more UCI students in different fields: law, medicine, psychology, engineering, etc. "I don’t believe there is only one or two careers for peace," she explains, "I believe it is a lifestyle everyone can be a part of, and reaching out to people of different fields can help build more ideas of how to spread peace education through technology (apps, programs, etc.), lectures, exercise, activities, etc., and how the dialogue of peace changes when you speak of it as a biologist, environmentalist, artist, engineer, etc." After all, "one of the innovators of peace was Alfred Nobel, a chemist and engineer himself."
Brandon Kim - Graduated 2015
Brandon was a member of SGP for a year. After graduating from UCI, Brandon did some temporary work as an accounting clerk at SurePrep, and with the City Clerk’s department at City of Newport Beach. Currently, he is working with Ten-X, a real estate online marketplace based in Irvine. Brandon was a member of SGP for a year. He credits SGP leadership and activities with providing him soft skills such as communication, mediation, and facilitation: "All three of those have impacted me in the workplace where I regularly deal with customers and seek to understand their needs and resolve them in accordance with our client guidelines." Most important, however, are the values he has taken away from SGP that has influenced him today both in my work life and personal life. "I value peace and justice, and its application can take forms in systematic ways or in the interpersonal relationships that form a group, he explains. "I do my best to create a culture of more awareness, disclosure, and healthy relationship communication." Inside and outside the company Brandon strives to be a positive force among his peers and community by endorsing realization and practicing what he likes to call, "exercising the 'basic humanity' muscles -- the simple things in our day that reaffirm our subjective value, which is often placed in contrast to one’s ability to be productive for profit."
Hassan Rasmy - Graduated 2015 ?2016
Hassan has been traveling and working intermittently since leaving UCI in June, and is currently looking for work before entering graduate school. Hassan received funding for travel from the Center for Citizen Peacebuilding. That funding, he says, "allowed me to enter a realm of understanding I'd only once reached while in the Olive Tree Initiative - an experience so real and an understanding so raw, that it made me want to learn more, to be on the ground longer, to dig deeper into the complex and multifaceted realities of conflict." "Traveling to Ukraine and Moldova as well as the unrecognized Transnistria allowed me a distinct opportunity to put my classes, knowledge, and intelligence to the test," Hassan explains. "It involved rapid analysis, difficult conversations, and required a tailored, diplomatic, and professional demeanor when speaking with the US Ambassador to Ukraine in the midst of the Russia-Ukraine onslaught, the Ambassador-at-Large of the Republic of Transnistria, as well as many other key stakeholders in Europe's troubled periphery." He relates that he continued to cite those experiences for the rest of his time as an undergraduate and hopes to continue to reference and use the practical skills gained in a professional career in the coming years.
Christina Ong - Graduated 2014
Christina graduated from UCI in 2014 and was involved with SGP & CCPB in her last 1.5 years at the university. Since then, she has worked for Tiyya, a non-profit organization helping refugees in Southern California. There, she helped introduce peacebuilding concepts to the Executive Director who strongly believes in these principles to teach refugee youth.Christina also collaborated with Dr. Garb in 2015 to form the Global PEACE Program, which involved taking a group of UCI students to Costa Rica. The group discussed demilitarization, Latin American history, environmental sustainability, and cultural immersion. Currently, Christina is involved as an alumni member of SGP helping to plan Peace & Justice Week 2017 as the Program Coordinator to assist new SGP leadership in the planning process. She is also applying to Ph.D programs in Sociology and American Studies to study nonviolent social movements and racial justice in the United States. Christina expresses gratitude for the community that SGP and CCPB provides. She explains, "Prior to my involvement with the Center, I had no real direction of what I wanted to study or pursue in the future. Because of the students, academic guidance, and mentorship I know the path I want to take."
Daria (Dasha) Slepenkina - Graduated 2014
Dasha was involved in SGP for a little over a year before graduating from UCI. During her tenure it was SGP’s first full year on campus, which was a very exciting time to join she says. "As Social Co-Chair, I helped with social media campaigns to promote student awareness of our program and of its mission." "My passion for peacebuilding has always been linked to my interest in international relations." Since graduating from UCI, Dasha has explored various aspects of the international arena. Immediately after graduation, she interned with the National Defense University, working with Dr. Nicholas Rostow in projects related to American Grand Strategy and international security. She then worked with the Eurasia Foundation as a US-Russia Social Expertise Exchange (SEE) Fellow, specifically focusing on promoting gender equality through the reduction of domestic violence. That role gave her the opportunity to travel to several cities in Russia to partner with local advocacy, policy, and law groups. Currently, she is working with Phenomenex, a company focused on the separation sciences. As the Global Marketing Specialist for Europe, she manages all marketing actions for their 19 European distribution partners. This involves identifying marketing opportunities in each territory, creating content that is appropriate for each country’s culture and market, and collaborating with their partners to execute these actions. Sasha acknowledges that the skills she learned through SGP have been extremely useful in all of her job positions, but especially so at her current job. "My responsibilities can essentially be broken down into two categories: (1) Understanding the unique circumstances of each partner and each market to identify opportunities, and (2) Negotiating with my partners and co-workers to act on these opportunities." She further explains that traditionally, these supplier/distributor partnership negotiations can be rather hostile, low-trust scenarios. "In my 1.5 years in this position, I have had to employ the principles of conflict resolution and peacebuilding to build more cooperative relationships with our partners on a daily basis." The international aspect of the job also results in different communication styles, which in her view, presents an opportunity to employ the principles of empathy in daily interactions.
Haruna Uriu - Graduated 2014
Haruna graduated from UCI in 2014 with a Masters in Psychology & Social Behavior and a minor in Humanities & Law. In the same year, she became a certified Yoga Therapist and Trainer, and has since taught at hospitals, schools, and local businesses for the purposes of promoting health education. In early 2016, she and her husband, James, helped establish a nonprofit, the American Yoga Association, to service people of all ages. Haruna joined SGP during her senior year to help with the annual Peace & Justice Week event at UCI. As the Outreach Coordinator, she learned to communicate and work with differing UCI organizations to facilitate specific events, including local bands and singers to perform for Arts for Peace. "During my year with SGP, I met my husband and made other lifelong friends who shared a passion for finding peace within our generation." Haruna says the influence of SGP gave her the impetus to become a certified court mediator and to join the Crisis Response Network as a responder. "I soon began to realize that to achieve interpersonal peace, one must first discover inner peace, she explains. This awareness prompted her to take the teacher training with Yoga Academy at UCI to learn the art of patience, meditation, and self love. "These experiences [working with SGP] affirmed my love of working for the community, and helped me establish a sense of self confidence to creating my own path in life."
James Uriu - Graduated 2014
James joined the Students for Global Peacebuilding (SGP) after attending Professor Garb's mediation class in 2013 just in time for the first annual SGP Peace Week at UCI. Inspired by the principals of Kingian Nonviolence, he helped organize the next cohort of SGP students while practicing mediation techniques at the Santa Ana Central Justice Center Small Claims Court. With that professional training and learned experiences in hand, he organized SGP's first Difficult Conversations Training for freshmen students at UCI, a program which continues today to train students over several weeks in nonviolent conversation tactics. After graduation, James was invited to speak about his involvement in the Conflict Resolution Certification Program and as an alumni leader in SGP and was subsequently introduced to his current job at OCCCO (Orange County Congregation Community Organization), a faith based community organizing nonprofit based in Anaheim, where he has been working as a grant writer and as a manager of finances, human resources, and operations. Regarding his involvement with SGP James expresses, "I am incredibly thankful for my experiences in SGP, which led to a career in local nonviolent social justice community organizing, introduced me to a network of likeminded individuals that believe in higher ideals to better our communities, and led me and my wife to pursue spiritual community building." Together the couple has focused on yoga as a spiritual practice for personal internal development as they journeyed to learn about community and peacebuilding externally, and as a result they co-founded a 501c3 nonprofit, The American Yoga Association.
Kaissel Bermudo - Graduated 2014
Since graduating from UCI in 2014, Kaissel has been working full-time at UCI in the International Programs department. She recently began graduate studies at CSULB in the Master’s of Public Administration program. She says that the time spent with SGP & CCPB was the highlight of her short time as UCI undergraduate student. As a transfer student her time at the university was limited, she explains, and choosing to spend it with SGP was a great decision. "I found myself surrounded by a passionate group of individuals who put their time and energy into helping make the world a better place." "My experiences in SGP leadership opened up opportunities for me that I might not have otherwise had." Networking within the organization led her to the minor in Conflict Resolution, and solidified an interest in international politics. She credits the skills learned in the minor’s core curriculum as having played a big role in landing her current job. Additionally, Kaissel was involved in the planning and execution of SGP’s first Peace Week at UCI, and that experience was an introduction into the world of event planning. She was able to use that knowledge in an internship with UCI’s Summer Session, where she was a mentor for incoming transfer students. Though full-time work and full-time school doesn't leave much free time, Kaissel still tries to keep up with things going on with SGP & CCPB. "Staying connected keeps me updated with important events and information regarding peacebuilding, both domestically and internationally. SGP has helped me see that peace work can happen anywhere and everywhere."