The US Institute of Peace (USIP) selected five GW students, four from the Elliott School, to participate in a novel, year-long mentorship initiative. The students competed for the spots, including writing a 500-word essay in addition to providing their transcripts and resumes.
Founded in 1984 by Congress, USIP works towards a world without violent conflict by engaging with government leaders and grassroots organizations such as local NGOs. USIP projects involve some 50 countries afflicted by conflict.
USIP’s mentorship program helps individuals from diverse backgrounds break into the fields of conflict resolution and peacebuilding by pairing students directly with a USIP mentor.
USIP President Nancy Lindborg noted, “USIP is pleased to provide an opportunity for top graduate students to learn from seasoned professionals as an investment in future scholars and practitioners.”
“The program only began four weeks ago, yet I’ve already learned so much! Perhaps the most intriguing thing I’ve learned thus far is about a project my mentor contributes to in Colombia,” says Grayson Shor, an Elliott MA candidate. “The program uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to monitor various aspects of the FARC demilitarization and the government’s response. As I’ve worked on a similar project in Myanmar, my mentor and I geeked-out over the design and the likely impacts of the project by comparing similar situations between Colombia and Myanmar.”
Having the opportunity to take online courses through USIP has expanded Shor’s academic opportunities, as well, although he emphasizes the value of the person-to-person connection. “As I learned in my first USIP Global Campus online course, peacebuilding cannot simply be learned in the classroom. I hope to learn first-hand through attending events and meeting with my mentor to learn about USIP projects.”
How does Grayson rate his experience in the USIP mentorship initiative? “Ten out of ten!”