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JRF Scholars Take Part in Peace Initiative in Northern Ireland

JRF Scholars Take Part in Peace Initiative in Northern Ireland

Under JRF’s RRIF Program, with funding from The American Ireland Fund, four Jackie Robinson Scholars traveled to Northern Ireland on June 7th to attend a 2012 session of the Summer School at the Clinton Centre for International Peace in Enniskillen. Georgetown University sophomores Rashawn Davis (top right) and Anna-Danielle Forsyth (bottom right), UCLA sophomore Ajwang Rading (top left) and Howard University graduate Makeda Njorge (bottom left) are sharing their own business start-up ideas and strategies with the panel of experts who are providing feedback and recommendations.

The 10-day conference, titled "Building Prosperity in an Age of Austerity" brings together students from Kosovo, Northern Ireland, and the United States, to participate in an interactive forum with panels of professionals, including business leaders, academics and community activists. Among the conference goals is the exploration of ideas for building prosperity in post-conflict societies.

Photo above: JRF Scholars Makeda Njoroge and Anna Forsyth listen to the tour guide at Belleek Pottery Company headquarters in Belleek, Fermanagh County, Northern Ireland.

Read some of the reflections from JRF Scholars now attending the Summer School at the Clinton Centre for International Peace:

Makeda Njoroge
Howard University 2012

"My time here at the Clinton Center in Northern Ireland has been extremely thought provoking. The first day set the tone of the program, with a speaker who challenged us to think deeply about conflict and to recognize our strengths to be effective proponents of conflict resolution. So far, I have enjoyed the in-depth discussion we had on the history of conflict in Ireland as we toured Belfast, as well as Professor Wilhelm Verwoerd's open and honest comments about the state of South Africa's social, economic and political stability…we have heard from both male and female speakers,…it is often the case that conferences are very male dominated, though conflict resolution is definitely an area where women are quite influential. I am so happy to be part of this experience and…to visit this beautiful nation."

Anna-Danielle Forsyth
Georgetown University 2014

"All the separate lessons we have had so far started to come together today, and the economics, politics and entrepreneurship were tied together in a great morning session. The day started with an economics lesson: a brief overview of monetary policy and how governments choose to deal with economic crisis. We then created a list of the qualities an entrepreneur should have in order to be successful. The characteristics of persistence, courage and innovation needed to start a business are among the most difficult to learn of all the topics we have learned about so far. Some may argue that they cannot be learned at all, and some select people are just born with the innate entrepreneurial ability. I’m still not sure about this yet. More thoughts to come…"

Rashawn Davis
Georgetown University 2014

"The past few days have been phenomenal. It’s one thing to read in history books about the conflicts and struggles that happen around the world; it’s an entirely different experience to see up close and interact with those who have experienced the same sort of conflict first hand…Lecturers such as Willie McCarter (founder of Cooley Distillery and former Fruit of the Loom Managing Director) and Michelle Gallen (founder of an award-winning social network for learners, teachers and speakers of the endangered Irish language) have provided invaluable stories of entrepreneurial triumph. in everything from alcohol to mobile apps. Moreover, my experiences at the peace wall and peace bridges have given practical contrasting views to the peace processes around different regions….Being able to interact with students who not only are involved with these peace processes, but who have lived them has given me a new sense of resolve to set out and create peace in my own city; a city that I know has the potential for greatness. This is a truly incredible experience thus far."

Ajwang Rading
UCLA 2014

"This last few days of being here in beautiful Enniskillen have been every bit as life changing as profound. Arriving on Friday and meeting the other students from Kosovo and Northern Ireland, the summer was off to an unforgettable start. Even being jet-lagged, the adrenaline flowed from entering a country of such weighted history and from touching people here…Friday's lesson with editor and author Denzil McDonald was a grand start. Saturday brought its own tip of joy, as we traveled around the city of Belfast where the beauty of the town intersects with deep religious, territorial and philosophical differences. But despite such deep divisions,…the promise of economic prosperity and social equality lay down the foundation for a sustainable system. The opportunity of signing the Peace Wall of Belfast was inspiring and it was refreshing to witness firsthand that the world prays for Northern Ireland. The near perfect combination of humor and historical insight presented by our tour guide, Michael, made the tour of Belfast the best tour of my life...On Sunday, I listened to how to bridge social capital in divided societies like S. Africa by the moving Dr. Wilhellm Verwoerd, the grandson of Hendrik Verwoerd who was the former South African minister known as the "architect of apartheid" …Monday I began to comprehend what is needed for economic development in post-conflict societies when facilitator, trainer and consultant specializing in political party and organizational development Shannon O'Connell presented unforgettable insight into what it takes for change…Tuesday was incredible as we were blessed to see what this beautiful country is capable of holding on to…by visiting Belleek Pottery…[and] it felt like a national geographic expedition in the Marble Arch Caves…These past few days here in Northern Ireland allow me to say without hesitation that my life and perspective of the world has fundamentally changed for the better….I wonder what this beautiful country has in store for me tomorrow."

Click here for more information about the Clinton Centre Summer School 2012