The following post was written by MS in Conflict Management and Resolution student Rima Jamaleddine.
As a citizen from Lebanon, a country full of conflict, political and economic instability, I have always felt the need to save it. In October 2019, citizens started a revolution in Lebanon as a reaction to the hardships they were going through. I took part in it and informed the world about what was going on by speaking at a local news channel called “MTV”, and following that, as a subject matter expert, I did a presentation for Human Rights students at UC Davis.
Rima Jamaleddine speaking on Lebanon 'MTV'
Rima Jamaleddine presenting for Human Rights students at UC Davis
“Hope is in the youth” is a phrase I always used to hear. It is true because the ones who started the revolution and remained on the streets to fight for their rights were the Lebanese youth. It was during Covid-19 lockdown that I went online looking for Master’s programs and found out that the Kroc School was the best fit for me. I believed that if I came here to study and then pursued my Ph.D. afterward, I would then be able to bring back critical skills and knowledge to support Lebanon in the simplest ways – by sharing what I had learned and taking action.
I applied for the Master’s in Conflict Management and Resolution program because I felt my country was unable to resolve its internal and external conflicts. I had a feeling that I needed to be and could be added value to Lebanon. When I started attending my Kroc School classes, it felt like I was meant to be there. I realized that as I was learning, I was provided with the necessary tools to understand the underlying issues behind my country’s instability, as well as the means to solve them. Analyzing conflicts, uncovering the logic of mediation and negotiations, and finally discovering the true fundamentals of leadership have all helped me gain a better understanding of what Lebanon should look like one day.
Thus far, through Rotary International, one of my scholarship funders, I have spoken at three Rotary Zoom meetings about my background, my goals, my past experiences, and my future steps. One of those meetings was led by Rotary Model UN, where promising young adults listened and learned about Lebanon through my unique lens. Because I was a political activist during the Lebanese protests, I was able to provide an accurate description of what is going on in Lebanon (the Lebanese media is somewhat biased and doesn’t always present the full story). Please watch my presentation at the Rotary Model UN below.
A few days ago, I spoke at the breakfast club meeting at Rotary Canada for 20 minutes. After presenting, I realized I’m getting more comfortable with speaking to a large group of people. With every question asked, I’m becoming more aware of the challenges my country is facing and expanding my understanding of the conflict in Lebanon. It feels like with each passing minute, I’m one step closer to finding loopholes in the political system in Lebanon – and how to make a political system that works better for its citizens. Thanks to the other scholarship granted to me by the Kroc School, I have also been able to attend career workshops and expos, and also learned to write cover letters, create an effective resume, and develop my professional portfolio. The school invites its students to numerous events of all different kinds geared towards helping them grow personally and professionally, be it academic or extracurricular, and I’m grateful to have joined several that have prepared me to become a more capable changemaker.
Alongside the professors at the Kroc School, I have met some amazing people from different cultures and backgrounds. I noticed that one of my classes consisted of students from at least six different nationalities. This has helped me appreciate diversity because we learned a lot from each other’s perspectives. For one of my courses, the professor asked us to pick a country, analyze its conflict and propose solutions to resolve it. When it was the day to decide, I said, “I picked Lebanon.” A few minutes later, a bunch of students asked me if they could join my group. We worked on the analysis together for four months and because I was providing them with live information from the revolution, they decided to use me as a citation in the paper. Even today, I still feel overjoyed to have had the opportunity to be cited in an academic paper, as it once was a dream of mine.
Both the Kroc School and Rotary International have boosted my confidence. They believe in my capabilities and for that, I strive to prove them right about their choice to select me as a student and as a scholarship recipient. I have a good academic record, my public speaking skills have improved immensely, and I’ve been dependable in meeting my deadlines. Learning from the distinguished professors and professionals that were once Kroc School students has helped to bring to life not only the theories that drive peacebuilding and conflict management but also the application of those theories in real situations and professional opportunities. Conflict Management and Resolution is a super interesting field because it provides the students with efficient mechanisms to reach their unique and individualized purpose.
Interested in learning more about the Kroc School MS in Conflict Management and Resolution program? Check it out here.