Nicholas Reyes

Year of participation: 2010

Year of graduation:2010

Degree: Bachelor of Commerce, Major in Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Sobey School of Business

What have you been doing since you graduated?

 I am currently living in Toronto, Canada, working at an international college as a Project Manager. In addition,

Nich Reyes 1

I am a Managing Partner at one of the top jiu-jitsu brands in the country, Ikiro Canada. I also co-founded an international lifestyle camp called Roll Chasers that features training camps in beautiful destinations around the world. Here is a quick look at this project: https://youtu.be/hvcM3vYCG0w. I also keep myself busy competing locally and internationally in jiu-jitsu tournaments. I am planning to open a jiu-jitsu academy in the near future here in Toronto, Canada to spread and grow this beautiful martial art and to help people to attain an active and healthy lifestyle in the local community.

Nich in Belfast

How do you use what you learned from your time with PSI in your life today? 

PSI has given me hope and outlook in life that people can still work together despite their own beliefs, race, history, philosophies or values.

This is very important especially in today's world especially dealing with conflict resolution. The world can get complicated sometimes due to all the innovative technological advancements and peace is what the world needs even more for us to keep progressing the right way.

What is your favorite memory of your time with PSI?

My favorite memories with PSI were meeting the grade school kids and seeing their happy reactions in our workshops. Our group really learned a lot from these kids. Also, seeing the beautiful peace wall murals painted in the streets of Belfast. The old castles were cool too!

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Margo Warren

Year of participation: 2010-2011

Year of graduation: 2012

Degree: M.A in International Development Studies

What have you been doing since you graduated?

After graduating, I began my career in global health policy and research in Toronto, initially focusing on access issues pertaining to children’s health.

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I then moved to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care in Ontario to work on strategic health policy. In 2018, I relocated to Europe to work for a global health research foundation based in Amsterdam called the Access to Medicine Foundation, where I now lead government engagement and policy.

How do you use what you learned from your time with PSI in your life today?

I believe that conflict resolution and empathy skill building are central to any professional role and, particularly, in leadership positions. From my time with Peaceful Schools International, the experiences I had and the skills I developed have helped me immensely in my professional career, both with interpersonal relationships within my teams and with stakeholder engagement efforts. Learning to better empathise with another person’s opinion and point of view is a critical skill that is not considered widely enough in formal education and leadership training. Teaching empathy skill building to young children both in Canada and in Northern Ireland was an incredible experience that, in turn, also helped me internalise the lessons we brought forward.

What is your favorite memory of your time with PSI?

My favourite memory will always be seeing the commonalities of young children dealing with conflict both in Canada and in Northern Ireland, two countries with notably different histories and cultures. It taught me that all children can benefit from learning about the power of empathy building at a young age and that young people are incredibly resilient. While minor conflicts between children may seem insignificant, learning to appropriately deal with differences of opinions at a young age can help shape future leaders and, as a result, can prevent much larger national and global conflicts from occurring.

 

Rami Zokari

Year of participation: 2019

What is your favorite memory with PSI?

I loved working with the kids and the students in my group while facilitating workshops.

How did PSI impact your Saint Mary's experience?

During my involvement with PSI, it helped me grow in SMU and learn more about conflict resolution which helped me a lot with my other involvements at SMU.

What did you learn from Peaceful Schools?

PSI was a life-changing experience, I got the change to develop my skills as well as my personality. I developed my leadership, cross-cultural learning, and public speaking skills. I also learned more about the history of Northern Ireland.

What have you been doing since PSI?

I was the founder & president of the SMU Arab Society. I was the Engagement Advisor for Student Affairs & Services. I served as the Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of SMUSA and now I serve as the Chair & Chief Governance Officer of the Board of Directors of SMUSA. I was recently a recipient of both the Student Leadership Recognition Award & The Student Leader of the Year Award.

Victoria Bell; BA '15

Year of participation: 2013 - 2015

Year of graduation: 2015

Degree: BA in Sociology & Religious Studies

What have you been doing since you graduated?

 Since graduating from SMU, I was brought on as an Analyst with the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch of Indigenous Services Canada and worked as the Goodwill Ambassador with Good Robot Brewing Company running their Goodwill Bot Fundraisers. In this time I have also given birth to my beautiful daughter Ivy and became a stepmom to an amazing little girl, Harwin. In my free moments, I am usually found spending time with my friends and family.

How do you use what you learned from your time with PSI in your life today? 

I use the lessons PSI has taught me so frequently in my life that it is difficult to put into words. I was fortunate enough to learn skills in improvisation, conflict management, curriculum development and so much more. Without a doubt, this program has made me the person I am today. I have used these lessons in my workplaces over the years in regards to mediating conflicts and developing my managerial skills. Outside of the workplace, these lessons have helped me in the way that I parent my children and overall in the way I interact with people on a daily basis. PSI has shown me the impact of outwardly expressing empathy and love for others which I know will follow me for the rest of my life.

What is your favourite memory of your time with PSI?

One of the most incredible experiences that has always stuck with me was getting to speak with Eibhilin Glenholmes about her experience as a women living through the Troubles. Her contribution to the peace and reconciliation process after everything she had experienced was so empowering. I know everyone in our group felt incredibly impacted by that conversation and it's an experience that I will always remember. I have so many other amazing memories with PSI both in Halifax and in Belfast, it's difficult to narrow it down to just one!

 

Shayne Russell; BA '08

Year of participation: 2006/2007

Year of Graduation: 2008 (summa cum laude)

Degree: Bachelor of Arts in History with a minor in French

Question: What have you been up to since you graduated?

After I graduated, I travelled a lot through different volunteer and work programs. I really like climbing so I eventually moved to BC, as it’s kind of a Mecca for climbers. I started climbing and working part-time at a new gym called The Hive. The owner really cared about combining climbing, education, and community. The programs at the gym focused on experiential and social learning in climbing and I really liked what the owner was doing in the community. He engaged young people and was making a difference. What he was building just kept pulling me back in. Now I am the Director of Operations at The Hive. It wasn’t the job I expected to have, but it’s a career I am really enjoying.

Check out them out here: https://hiveclimbing.com/

Question: How do you use what you learn from your time with Peaceful Schools International in your life today?

The things I learned are always with me, embedded in everything I do. My experience with PSI and the Conflict Resolution Society was very impactful. As a history major, I was completely enthralled with the prep-work before we went to Belfast, and while we were there, we were so much more than just tourists. I remember, before we went to our first school, we were told that every kid we met that day were likely affected in some way by suicide, whether it be a father, brother, uncle, or someone else. I remember pulling up to our first school and having to go through security fences, and they had bars on the windows, I thought it looked like a jail. Once we were inside though, it looked just like any other school. Bright colours, math books, and student art on the walls. There are a lot of cliché things I can say I learned while there, but one of the most important was to not judge a book by it’s cover. You never know what is going on inside someone’s life by just looking at them. Today, I run a team of about 15 managers and 140 staff. Conflict Resolution is something I have to consider everyday and I always remember to analysis the situation from a different point of view.

Question: What is your favourite memory of your time with PSI?

I have two. First, is from our first school. I remember walking into
the school and we were waiting in a teacher’s lounge for our first class. The
kids must have been told we were coming because they were all outside yelling
and waving at us through the windows. They had so many questions about us, and
Canada. They were so inquisitive. They wanted to learn as much as they could
able to rest of the world.

The second is when we made an unplanned trip to a High School. Of course, all our prepared material was for primary schools, so we were given documents the night before to prepare for the older age group the next morning. We went to an all-boys school and stood in front of a full auditorium to talk about conflict resolution. I tend to include a lot of humour when I public speak and they were eating it up. It was a great. We ended up breaking up into smaller groups and had a big Q&A session. The students shared stories of their own experiences with conflict and how many of their conflicts come from outside the school. It was an eye-opening experience.