- Category: Volume 88 (Fall 2016 - Spring 2017)
- Published: 05 October 2016
- Written by KATE MCGUIRE | CONTRIBUTING WRITER
Students do not really know what to expect on the first day of classes, or throughout the semester. Everyone has experienced the typical routine: write a few papers, be up all hours of the night to study for exams, and stay at desk in the classroom, barely raising your hand and participating. How sad is that— not learning, not growing, and not becoming involved. Well, surprise; there is a course that can change your life for the better, for years to come.
Creating A Culture of Peace is a course that is the exact opposite of many classes that a student has taken here at Monmouth University, which makes it extremely unique and life-altering. Eleanor Novek, a professor of communication, teaches this class, which has received positive results and relationships after the students have completed these credits. "The class was developed out of my volunteer work with the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP)," Novek explained. "AVP is a nonprofit group that offers conflict resolution programs in community groups and prisons. Through games, exercises, and shared experiences, it develops the communication skills and attitudes people need to solve conflicts peacefully.
It is a class that is set up in a circle, having the students and Novek looking at each other, and interacting on a conversational level, so anyone can speak about any topic at any given time. Each individual is given a name for the class, making it more friendly and comfortable. The student has to use an adjective that describes them that starts with the same letter as their name. Novek recalled, " In the class, everything we do builds a community of trust and sharing. Students journal about topics as far-reaching as early experiences of violence, holding grudges, and random acts of kindness. Each one chooses a positive name they use all semester. At the end of the semester we didn't want to leave!"
Ayse Yasas, a senior communication student who went by Amazing Ayse, said “This class wasn’t like any other class I’ve ever taken in the best way possible, and it’s probably one of my favorites of all time. It felt like a small community of peace and togetherness, and I became friends with people that I would never normally talk to. It’s also the only class that taught lessons that I could use in everyday life and genuinely made me think about my actions everyday to actively be a better person and keep the peace with people.” How amazing is that? A class that really makes an individual think about their everyday life, and change.
A typical day’s schedule consists of the students entering, putting the desks in a circle, and going around the room answering a question about a certain topic or situation. The circle shape symbolizes the class as a community, as one. There are infinite answers; learning about an individual’s temper, their home life, challenges, and things they are not proud of. There is a pact that is agreed upon that everything shared does not leave the room when class is over. The different mechanisms of dealing with violence and anger are discussed using examples, and skits are created to show how these methods can be used in daily lives. By being open and honest about the hardships individuals are going through, and even the good things, a strong, familial bond was created between everyone in the room. It is a course where everything that is taught is absorbed, and used in day-to-day life.
Zachary Karvelas, a senior communication student who chose the nickname Zippy Zack, confirmed, “I’ve never had a class that impacted me more than Create a Culture of Peace. The class was open and acceptant of everyone’s opinion and voice, respectful, honest, and friendly. It was the best environment to learn in, and more classes should use more peaceful and open dynamic in their classrooms.” It is true; the learning mechanism and environment really makes a difference in the overall experience.
A fellow senior communication student Marie Soldo who went by Magnanimous Marie, said, “Having a different type of dynamic definitely helps with learning and it made us all feel like a little family in Create a Culture of Peace. This semester in my classes I don’t know anyone that well, and no one really talks to each other so it was nice to have Create a Culture of Peace which allowed us to open up with each other and grow together as a class. I’m a pretty shy person too so it was great having a class where my shyness disappeared the second I walked in the classroom.” This class was a way for her to open up, and crack that shell.
Novek will be instructing this class again in the spring on Monday and Wednesday mornings. Get out there, get involved, learn, grow, and create relationships. You will not be disappointed, Kind Kate promises.
IMAGE TAKEN from fortlewis.edu