Hometown: Seattle, Washington
In the Field: September 2015 - August 2016
Why PBI?: The opportunity to work with PBI fulfils my long-time goal of returning to live and work in Honduras for an extended period of time. The two months I spent in Honduras as a 17 year old and the three months as a 19 year old completely rocked my world. I witnessed immense political turmoil and violence, and I learned about these conflicts’ roots in imperialism, colonialism, and structural racism, among other factors. I also learned that as a foreigner, particularly as an American, I hold a great deal of power in Honduras and so, through PBI, I have the opportunity to use my ties to the U.S. to apply pressure on our government to advocate for Honduran human rights defenders. The resilience of the human rights defenders PBI works with in Honduras is incredibly inspirational, as many of these defenders continue with their work despite having faced severe repression for decades. I believe there are many lessons to be learnt that can be applied to human rights organizing in the United States, as well, and I am very much looking forward to learning from the groups and individuals PBI accompanies.
Nepal and Kenya
Hometown: Sleepy Eye, Minnesota
In the Field: Nepal September 2011 - October 2012; Kenya March 2013 - March 2014
Why PBI?: I count my work in Nepal and Kenya with Peace Brigades International as the most rewarding professional and personal experiences of my life. Yes, the difficult political and human rights climate and intense team-oriented working environment make for a challenging experience and will test your limits, but these aspects also facilitate a unique bond with fellow volunteers and the human rights defenders I came to know and admire. I left PBI with a far greater appreciation for the struggles in which HRDs endure and courageously overcome, and am convinced in the important role PBI plays in supporting HRDs in this regard.
Hometown: Casa Grande, Arizona
In the Field: Bogota Team January 2009 - January 2010
Why PBI?: I'm just proud to do my small part to transform the perception abroad of what our country stands for and to support the brave activists in Colombia. PBI has an awesome reputation and I'm excited to be a part of the process.
Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri
Project: Indonesia, Jayapura Sub-Team
In the Field: Jan 2010 - June 2011
Why: I chose PBI because I felt their approach to human rights does not carry an attitude of moral superiority, and because the practiced method of peace education is sufficiently elicitive and therefore focused on the participants rather than the facilitators. Also, I was looking to work in Southeast Asia and PBI seemed to provide a great opportunity to do just that, while also learning new skills and acquiring invaluable experiences in the field of human rights and peace work.
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
In the Field: June 2009 – December 2010
Personal Field Experience: Feb 2009 I moved to Yogyakarta, Indonesia to start my four month language school; volunteers pay for about half of this and live on our own while in school. It was a great experience and I came out of it having the ability to communicate efficiently in Bahasa Indonesia.
I was placed in the Jakarta team and for the first four months spent 98% of my time doing internal work such as research, reporting and organizing. Living in Jakarta was nice, just like living in any city in the US besides the different language. Working ‘in the field’ in Jakarta is like doing any regular office/admin job.
Then, we had a large challenge related to our presence on the ground in Indonesia and some volunteers had to be replaced. To continue our coverage, we implemented a rolling system so that we would move though the lessoned volunteers in all three teams to ensure they could remain open and functioning.
For the past two months I have spent most of my time in the Wamena team in the Papua Highlands. Wamena is a very unique place where outside influence only entered a few decades ago. The weather is magnificently cool, the vegetables are fresh and the way of life here is opposite to what I had known. It is very often that one can see the ‘orang dani’ (indigenous people from the Baliem Valley) wearing traditional Papuan clothes.
The human rights situation is difficult to assess because often it can become very dangerous quickly and then go to very safe just as fast. I believe our international presence alone allows the community to feel safe. We meet with our clients on a daily basis and maintain a fully functioning Peace Library for the community. Living here has been the most amazing and self transforming experience of my life!
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
In the Field: Jakarta Team, October 2008 – August 2009
Why PBI?: I chose to volunteer with PBI, because it does peace and human rights
work in Indonesia.
Personal Field Experience: In February 2009, I moved from Jakarta to the Papua Highlands to work for two months with the PBI team in Wamena, in the Baliem Valley. We did some peace building work, including conducting a Peace Dance activity in one of the villages that brought together people from different areas of Papua to celebrate each other's cultural traditions. The Wamena team also trained and hired two local people to work in an expanded Peace Library. We also prepared for the Indonesian national elections. In addition, we met with police, military and intelligence officials, to keep them informed about our activities.
In April, I moved to Yogyakarta to revise and update the Indonesian language curriculum for new PBI volunteers. I also did initial work on updating the Indonesia Project section of the PBI website. Currently I am working with the Indonesia Project to finish website revision/updating and the Bahasa Indonesia language curriculum.
Hometown: Fairmont, Minnesota
Project Country/Team: Guatemala Project
In the Field: March 2009 – March 2010
Why PBI?: I chose PBI because it's strong politic of non-interference allows us to support national organizations without imposing our views or values upon their work. Volunteering with Peace Brigades has been an exceptional opportunity to work alongside local organizations in a capacity and with an intimacy that seems impossible in any other context.