Alejandra, Beth Ann, and ErinI’ve just completed my third week-long class at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Last October I participated in the first level STAR training (Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience) and wrote about it here. This week was STAR II; an opportunity for “religious and civil society leaders from around the world” to “expand their capacity to respond to the violence, trauma, and conflicts they encounter in their particular context.”

Check out photos from the past week at my Facebook page (this is a public link so anyone can view the photos whether you have a Facebook page or not).

I joined peacebuilders who work in many places around the globe, including Ghana, Rwanda, Burma, the United States, Guatemala, Mexico, Ecuador, the Netherlands, Columbia, Belize, Peru, and elsewhere. Some work in physically dangerous places. All work with people experiencing trauma in some form, including historic, unhealed harms. I am in awe of the work my colleagues and allies do. Their commitment is inspiring. My relationships with them give me strength and hope. Most of all I know that I have allies around the world who are committed to, and are working for, peace (physical and psychological, collective and individual).

STAR came into being in the days after September 11, 2001 as a joint effort of EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding and Church World Service. Its mission was, and is, to provide strategies for people to become aware of trauma infecting communities and individuals, to develop resilience in ways that empower them to heal, and to break the cycles of violence (physical and psychological; causing harm to one’s self or others).

The STAR framework recognizes that healthy individuals and communities understand and incorporate the ability to heal from, and be resilient to, life’s inevitable traumas. They successfully integrate systems of restorative justice, conflict transformation, human security, and spirituality.

Those completing STAR II are eligible to use STAR materials in workshops and trainings they lead in their travels, institutions, and communities. I look forward to sharing some of what I’ve learned at the upcoming White Privilege Conference in Memphis, Tennessee (April 1-5), the Denver Green Festival (May 2-3), and Institute of Noetic Sciences International Conference in Tucson, Arizona (June 17-21).

For more information visit the STAR website or drop me a note. I can’t say enough about the importance of this (and other) training being offered by the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at EMU. These folks don’t just “talk the talk.” They’re doing the good work of creating a more peaceful and just world.