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SU London students prepare to embark on ‘Journey of Understanding’
SU London students prepare to embark on ‘Journey of Understanding’February 18, 2008Daeya Malboeufdmking04@syr.edu
Four SU London students are on a 10-day Journey of Understanding excursion in Aberdovey, Wales, Feb. 17-27. They are the only American representatives in a diverse group of participants hailing from Europe, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
The students were chosen following an intensive application process and interview. They are: Don Desawade, a junior majoring in television, radio and film in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and marketing in the Whitman School of Management; Haley Kanor, a junior geography major in The College of Arts and Sciences; Nathan Muller, a junior television, radio and film major in the Newhouse School; and Celina Tousignant, a junior triple-major in Spanish, psychology and magazine journalism in The College of Arts and Sciences and the Newhouse School.
The Journey of Understanding is sponsored by Encompass Trust, an organization founded in the wake of the Bali terrorist bombings in 2002. The family of one of the victims, Daniel Braden, felt that as long as people are able to dehumanize the faith or culture of an “other,” events like the one that killed him would continue to occur.
In 2003, the trust created the Journey of Understanding, a unique excursion that brings together 24 young people (ages 16-23) from the United States, United Kingdom, Indonesia, Israel and Palestinian territories. The group spends the first eight days together at the Outward Bound Center in Aberdovey. By day, they take part in activities such as rock climbing, kayaking and hill walking, which help break down initial barriers and develop trust. In the evenings, they engage in workshops and discussions on challenging issues such as stereotypes, identity, cultural heritage and ethnic conflict. For the last two days of the program, participants will return to London to make presentations to local schools on what they have learned and experienced.
“Meeting the other individuals in the group was one of the most intimidating things I have ever encountered and saying goodbye to these individuals was one of the saddest things I have ever experienced,” says Alison Labanoski, who took part in the program last December. “Nothing in my life has ever taught me as much about myself or others.”
This is the third Journey of Understanding in which SULstudents have participated, but the first since SU and Encompass Trust entered an official partnership, with SU providing full sponsorship for four students each semester.