My Future in Research is Now as Clear as Day
JLI PVE, Youth and Interfaith Research Capacity Sharing project participant
While there are many online and offline opportunities that advance the course of peace and interfaith dialogue, there are a few that do so with sustainability in mind. Sustainability in the sense of, after the training then what next? Are there prospects of making use of the skills gained? In my 12 years of experience in peace building and interfaith dialogue, I have come across a few “sustainable oriented” programs from the many international and local platforms I have benefited from. One such platform is Interfaith Dialogue on Violent Extremism (iDove) program (a member of iDove since 2018). It is through iDove where I first encountered Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) capacity-sharing project, (another sustainable oriented project) a partnership project between iDove and Joint Learning Initiative (JLI).
Having conducted research before for my Master’s thesis in the field of PVE and consequently contributing to a book chapter (awaiting publication) on youth and PVE, I saw an opportunity of expanding my research ability – an opportunity to learn and express my thoughts and emotions through the PVE capacity-sharing project. Thankfully, an opportunity presented itself and I chose to write on mental health, a condition I was going through at the time. Putting my experience pen to paper felt like therapy. Inspired to discover solutions not just for myself but for other young women peacebuilders across the globe, I conducted a study on “Mental health and young women peacebuilders in Nairobi, Kenya”. The first step to healthcare during the study period was to take a break from work.
Together with other 11 participants across three continents, we were upskilled on various research skills through the PVE capacity sharing project weekly meetings. That there are various ways of disseminating research findings including photo essay, policy briefs, video and documentary, blogs, poetry and art, as well as academic essay or journal articles left me dumbfounded. This new discovery led me to share my findings through a policy brief.
Excited about this new discovery, I looked forward to attending the weekly meetings, which were not only illuminating but also therapeutic. It was either Ali (a researcher from Pakistani) with the never-ending sound of kitchenware at the background as he attended the session in his mum’s kitchen while she prepared dinner, or Dr. Jennifer Eggert, our trainer, who was never short of comical moments. Never tiring of looking for Zainab (fellow staff from JLI) to come to her aid, her PowerPoint presentation would somehow refuse to cooperate.
My highlight was the pairing of participants, resulting in friendships that last to date. I paired with a kind soul from Lebanon, a friend I still cherish. In one of our conversations, he confessed “I was not being very proactive. I was somehow frustrated and about to quit, but when I saw your enthusiasm and you kept following me up through WhatsApp I got encouraged. You were a great research partner, thank you”. I doubt he has any idea what his words meant to me…they keep reverberating in my ears to date. They literally gave me the zeal to push!
The accomplishment of this project propelled me so much that I have a lot of confidence in my research abilities. I have since applied for two opportunities using my recently published paper on mental health. My future in research is now as clear as day. If you asked me four months ago what my academic career looked like in the future, pursuing a PhD was not in my list. Thanks to the PVE capacity sharing project, I am currently applying for the programme. Indeed the world is one’s oyster!
Read Regina’s research – The Mental Health of Young Woman Peace Practitioners in Nairobi: Who Heals the Healers?
This is powerful Regina, I love the artistic way of writing a reflection. It’s very true that the JLI program has transformed also my way of thinking in research. Jennifer s way of coaching is very unique, in a way that I found myself feeling very well during our online programs!
Your reflection gives su energy not only in research but also in our ground PVE initiatives.
Loved it, thank you Regina for sharing your thoughts which in a way matches they way I feel and think about my experience with iDove, JLI as well as making my way as a peace researcher with such an empowering approach and leadership of JLI
I was hooked all the way to the end reading your reflection. It not only reminded me of our fond memories undertaking the capacity research training but also renewed my interest in PVE, Research and Peace.
All the best