Why don’t you tell them grassroots peacebuilding doesn’t exist…

This weekend was busy and productive.  We finalized our surveys in San Carlos and Granada, in addition to conducting four interviews with demobilized combatants who were part of a government sponsored reintegration program here in Medellin.  

We also had a funny surprise in Granada.  The mayor’s office there had called me on Friday and asked if we could meet with a group of six of them on Saturday afternoon.  We arrived at the meeting prepared to discuss the results of our work thus far, with copies of our original maps printed and our business cards ready to distribute.  We even had a powerpoint ready.  

But it turned out we had the topic of the meeting wrong.  What they wanted to discuss was not our work, but visiting us in the United States.  (Thankfully, there was no projector, so we hadn’t loaded our powerpoint, and were able to play along as if we knew this had been the subject of the meeting.)  The group wanted to attend my dissertation defense (which I had estimated will take place in August 2015, but I really have no idea if I will be ready by then…).  They were ready to talk logistics and details: what the weather would be like in Madison in August, how much it would cost for a cell phone, how much the flights would be from Medellin, how to get a visa, how much time we would be able to spend with them, etc.  

At first I was a little worried about the idea – what if I wasn’t ready to defend by then?  Would it make me nervous to have an audience at my public defense?  Would we be able to help them organize accommodations in Wisconsin? But as we continued to discuss the possibility, I realized that this was potentially the most awesome idea ever.  In the university department that had questioned whether “grassroots peacebuilding” even existed in Colombia, I’d have a whole delegation of Colombian grassroots peacebuilders witnessing my defense.  The idea makes me so happy – a dozen enthusiastic supporters, none of whom speak English, sitting in the audience while I overcome the final milestone of the doctorate process.  What a sweet and supportive end to this often impossibly-hard-feeling PhD that would be! Needless to say, Jake and I are meeting with the group again in a few weeks…

We’ll keep you posted. In the meanwhile, here are a couple photos from the weekend.


The building with the blue trim is where we had our surprise meeting. In front of it is a chiva at sunset. The group joked that they want to arrive at my defense in one of these 🙂


This is the community meeting in Granada where we presented our maps. You can see them posted on the wall in that back, placed strategically next to our good friend, Adult Jesus.


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2 Responses to Why don’t you tell them grassroots peacebuilding doesn’t exist…

  1. Martha Nachreiner says:

    Casey and Jake–this is powerful! If it comes to pass, Ray and I will come and help with logistics ( we can drive over in the SUV etc) , entertaining etc. What a vote of confidence in the importance of your work and theirs! 👏👏❤️

  2. sharon says:

    Most awesome idea ever! Time to start raising money for your delegation’s travel expenses? And for your department to kick in headsets and a translator. . .

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