As a Ph.D candidate in the Laney Graduate School concentrating on Religion and International Development, I was extremely privileged to participate in the journeys trip to Ireland in the summer of 2011.
My academic interest is focused on Christian humanitarian mission that challenges global issues such as poverty, disease, conflict, violence, and injustice. In this, the journeys trip to Ireland gave me a helpful case regarding Christian practices of mission in conjunction with peace-building. On the one hand, Christianity – Catholicism and Protestantism – has unfortunately become a kind of label that consciously and unconsciously dictates one’s identity in Ireland. However, on the other hand, those who find problems with the existing reality have attempted to resist the division, exemplifying some of the most urgent and much-needed ways to which Christian mission in Ireland has to be directed.
All in all, the journeys trip taught me a valuable lesson; that is, we should not ignore the fact that there are individuals and communities that intentionally counteract all types of potentially violence-provoking, sectarian movement in spite of the politically and religiously motivated tension in Ireland. In this, I was very encouraged to meet with numerous political and religious leaders who have worked for peace and reconciliation at both interfaith and inter-political levels. For example, Rev. David Cooper has been the centerpiece in promoting ecumenical movement in Northern Ireland by collaborating with Father Gerry Reynolds and Sinn Fein politician Tom Hartley. In addition, Rev. Gary Mason of East Belfast Mission, who has intentionally connected both loyalists and republicans by inviting them to the dialogue table, is a good example that peace and reconciliation process also has to be undertaken at the grassroots level.
Some of the biggest advantages the journeys tripoffered, I believe, range from the diversity of the group to enriching opportunities to meeting with those who are actually involved in a type of reconciliation work. So I strongly encourage other Emory students to join one of the potentially life-transforming, fun-filled journeys trips. Above all, I guarantee you that traveling and conversing with seasoned Emory faculty and staff such as Dean Cynthia Shaw and Rev. Susan Henry-Crowe will give you an unforgettably enriching opportunity to broaden your worldview!