by Barbra Lukunka
Barbra Lukunka, senior international studies major,
Last semester, I was fortunate to receive the McCaleb Initiative for Peace Grant to research the peace process between Ethiopia and Eritrea. It is a wonderful grant, especially for students who are adventurous and willing to explore the disparate cultures that make this world what it is. Many students have taken full advantage of this grant and researched peace processes in countries as exotic and exciting as India, Costa Rica and even Mexico. For those of us who have taken this opportunity, we owe our many thanks to the McCalebs, notably the late Kenneth McCaleb, who believed in peace so much he started this fund. I would also like to express my utmost gratitude to his wife, Margaret McCaleb, and their son, Robert McCaleb, who have kept this fund going and helped students realize their ambitions.
I would like to thank Missouri Southern and Dr. Chad Stebbins, director of the Institute of international Studies, in particular for encouraging students to pursue this grant and broaden our minds.
I would like to thank Dr. Ann Wyman, assistant professor of political science, for her guidance. I am very grateful for the advice and ideas she gave me in order to make my research complete.
I owe a great deal of thanks to those that helped me with my research in Ethiopia. I appreciate the arrangements that were made for me to speak with the people involved in the peace process.
I am most grateful as well for the people who supplied me with confidential and classified documents.
I understand the difficulty and pressure they all went through in order to help me, and for that I am forever grateful.
Although I am technically an international student from Zambia, Ethiopia is the only home I know. It is a wonderful country with great traditions and culture. Naturally for me it is disturbing to know Ethiopia and Eritrea have had a border dispute that has led to the deaths of thousands of people and completely disturbed the lifestyles of many more. Even though I grew up in Addis Ababa, the capital city, doing a research project there was so amazing in that it felt like I was discovering Ethiopia all over again. I learned many new things about the Ethiopian culture and the people; things I had never bothered to know when I lived there. I improved my Amharic, one of the major Ethiopian languages, and tried learning Tigray, the language spoken in northern Ethiopia and Eritrea. My research helped me see under the surface and explore the diverse culture in order to truly understand the reason for conflict and what could possibly be done to bring about peace.
When I arrived in Ethiopia, I knew what I wanted to research, but I did not have a true sense of direction as to what exactly I wanted to achieve. I met many people from the African Union and United Nations who were willing to help me by providing me with documents. During the first few days I understood the only way I could possibly take my Southern readers on this journey in search for peace with me is by doing research on disparate aspects of the peace process and therefore having an eclectic final project.
I chose to look at the peace process from different angles such as: the political angle, legal and humanitarian angle, religious angle, sociological angle, and even an historical angle. These angles are relatively different and yet they all are connected by having one common objective — finding the peaceful solution to the dispute between two brotherly countries.