Peacebuilding through education
Meet SIT alumna Aleksandra Nesic
I chose international education AND conflict transformation as my career. I received my MA in international education and a certificate in conflict transformation from SIT in 2007 and have since designed and coordinated a number of intercultural and peace education programs for students from over 100 different countries and cultures, and I have designed and taught undergraduate courses in cross-cultural communication, global conflicts, and international relations. I completed my PhD in international conflict analysis and resolution, which greatly complemented my background in international education and cross-cultural communication.
I was first drawn to the field of international education as I firmly believed in its ability to transform lives, as educational and cultural exchange opportunities among and between people are a key factor in bridging cultures and establishing meaningful relations. But I recognized that international education is only one discipline that contributes to peacebuilding, and by pursuing a doctorate in conflict analysis and resolution, I expanded my knowledge and research skills in understanding conflict dynamics, theories, and practices that can further enrich and inform my work in international education.
I have designed new courses and programs related to the study of global conflicts, taught and trained hundreds of young people from many different parts of the world, and worked on non-violent and peaceful conflict resolution techniques, cross-cultural communication, and responsible global citizenship. As I have learned at SIT, empathy is critical when working in and with conflict-sensitive areas and people. Understanding local cultural elements and conditions, along with people’s historical narratives, cultural values, norms and practices—without placing one’s own ethnocentric judgment on them—is crucial.
As educators and conflict practitioners, many of us are at the nexus of many intersecting fields, disciplines, and associated dilemmas that we must treat carefully and sensitively in order to establish space where we can imagine improved and transformed relations and conditions around us. That itself requires commitment, passion, enthusiasm, and firm belief in our ability to make a positive and sustainable difference around us.