By Marie-Paule Attema, a Rotary Peace Fellow 

After months of anticipation I finally arrived in Brisbane, Australia, where I will be for the next 18 months while I pursue the Masters of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Queensland Rotary Peace Center.

I quickly felt at home after being picked up by our Australian parents who have been extremely helpful in our transition.  I have enjoyed the pros and cons of Australian living as I have quickly adapted to hot weather in March and traveling on ferry that feels more like the vacation than public transit

I have also survived Cyclone Debbie (experiencing my first ever rain day) and have been sure to watch my step for snakes and spiders.  I have also learned to stay out of the Brisbane River.  Bull Sharks are everywhere!!

The staff at the University of Queensland Peace Center have been incredibly welcoming and helpful. I was rather anxious returning to studying after six years, but after only one month I feel inspired and prepared to undertake my program. I’m both honored and intimidated to be on this journey with nine amazing Peace Fellows from all over the globe. Each Peace Fellow brings vast knowledge and life experience.

This semester I’m enrolled in four peace and conflict related courses. The course work is both challenging and exciting. I’m excited to learn not only about peace and conflict theories but also practical skills including meditation. Furthermore, I was excited to be a part of a seminar for Class 14 this past week. These peace fellows presented on their AFE (applied field experience).  It was an enlightening experience and I am excited for my opportunity to apply some of my newfound knowledge into the field.

In a world deeply wounded by conflict, I feel more than ever that peace education is essential. I’m thankful for my sponsoring Rotary Club of Tavistock, Ontario, Canada, and my host Rotary Club of Balmoral Brisbane, Australia, for their continued support, and look forward to keeping in touch!

Is a peace fellowship right for you?