Check out what your program alumni are doing now! A new alumni will be featured every month, check back often to meet more of our project’s network!
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.