By Marie-Paule Attema, a Rotary Peace Fellow at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
After months of anticipation, I finally arrived in Brisbane, Australia, where I will be for the next 18 months while I pursue the Masters of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Queensland Rotary Peace Center.
I quickly felt at home after being picked up by our “Australian parents,” who have been extremely helpful in our transition. I have enjoyed the pros and cons of Australian living as I have quickly adapted to 30 degree weather in March and travelling via a ferry that feels more like vacation than public transit. I have also survived Cyclone Debbie (experiencing my first ever rain day) and have been sure to watch my step for snakes and spiders. I have also learned to stay out of the Brisbane River. Bull Sharks are everywhere!!
The staff at the University of Queensland Peace Center have been incredibly welcoming and helpful. I was rather anxious returning to studying after six years, but after only one month I feel inspired and prepared to undertake my program. I’m both honored and intimidated to be on this journey with nine amazing Peace Fellows from all over the globe. Each Peace Fellow brings vast knowledge and life experience.
This semester I’m enrolled in four peace and conflict related courses. The course work is both challenging and exciting. I’m excited to learn not only about peace and conflict theories but also practical skills including mediation. Furthermore, I was excited to be a part of a seminar for Class 14 this past week. These peace fellows presented on their AFE (applied field experience). It was an enlightening experience and I am excited for my opportunity to apply some of my newfound knowledge into the field.
In a world deeply wounded by conflict, I feel more than ever that peace education is essential. I’m thankful for my sponsoring Rotary Club of Tavistock, Ontario, Canada, and my host Rotary Club of Balmoral Brisbane, Australia, for their continued support, and look forward to keeping in touch!
About the author: Marie-Paule is a survivor of the Rwandan genocide. She immigrated to Canada 16 years ago. Over the last ten years she has worked with marginalized populations in various community initiatives in Ontario, Canada. Her career goal is to contribute to recovery and mental health in the aftermath of armed conflict, and in the long term, to promote peace and equality through global policymaking.