Langley, BC— In the centre of TWU’s Langley campus stands a makeshift wall, dappled with fluorescent graffiti and marked by one choice word: Hope. The wall is a part of a display set up by TWU’s International Social Justice Club (ISJC) to raise non-partisan awareness about the Israeli and Palestinian conflict.
For Social Justice Week, which runs from April 12th to April 16th, the ISJC created an engaging and educational exhibit that encourages peace and reconciliation in the Middle East. The team built and painted walls to symbolize the physical and political barriers that rift the Israeli and Palestinian cultures. Each wall presents information from a side of the conflict, as well as prayers, messages of reconciliation, and stories from people who are promoting peace in the midst of the conflict.
“The conflict is both religiously and politically charged,” says ISJC president, third year international studies student Anna Vogt. “Therefore we want to encourage students to examine ways in which their religious beliefs interact with their political beliefs. We want to recognize both cultures and, in doing so, think about reconciliation in both a biblical and political way.”
The project is in collaboration with a peace network called Hope Equals that provides resources to university social justice groups across North America such as the ISJC. “Our mission as a club is to explore social justice issues, raise awareness among students, and provide ways for people to get involved,” continues Vogt, “and so we are very excited to be a part of a nationwide project to raise awareness about peace and reconciliation.”
Hope Equals’ manager Mariano Avila helped brainstorm ideas with Trinity Western’s ISJC and is thrilled about the initiative the students are taking. “I'm truly impressed with ISJC. They have not only come up with a visually engaging concept, but they have developed a plan to effectively turn shock value into a productive conversation about reconciliation and peace. It's hard to remain neutral in such a polarized debate, finding a middle ground, and I think they nailed it.”
The club wanted the exhibit to not only draw people in and offer a visual representation of the situation, but to provide alternative ways of thinking about the conflict. “Ultimately, this is about peace, not politics,” adds Avila. “For that reason, we want to encourage students to explore ways in which they can influence their civil, academic and ecclesiastical leaders to promote peace.”
Vogt hopes that the project will serve as a starting point to educate people about the conflict and ways in which they can help. “It’s not about taking sides. We want to be on the side of encouraging both sides to work together.”
Trinity Western University, in Langley, B.C., is a provincially chartered, independent Christian liberal arts and sciences university, enrolling approximately 4000 students. TWU offers 42 undergraduate majors, ranging from biotechnology, education, theatre and music, to psychology, communications and biblical studies. TWU's 16 graduate degree programs include nursing, counseling psychology, marriage and family therapy, business, theology, linguistics, and leadership, and interdisciplinary degrees in English, philosophy and history. TWU holds Canada Research Chairs in Dead Sea Scroll Studies, Developmental Genetics and Disease, and Interpretation, Religion & Culture.
Last Updated: 2010-04-14