Conflict resolution skills useful at home and abroad
Shauna Fay (MSC'03, CRS 3–year) has found the skills and knowledge she gained through her Conflict Resolution Studies degree at Menno Simons College useful in many opportunities she’s had since graduating.
She’s worked as a health educator, a literacy coordinator, and taught English in Mexico. Recently, she began a grassroots project to help meet some of the needs of migrants as they travel through Mexico.
Working as a Foreign Language Instructor for two semesters in Ixtepec, Mexico, Fay experienced the realities of living in another culture and the opportunities and challenges that experience can bring.
“I took Conflict and Culture in school, but you can’t wrap your head around what that means until you’ve lived submerged in another culture,” she says. “I understood the theory—going to Mexico I saw what that meant in real life.”
Though it’s been a few years since she taught in Mexico, Fay says she still holds Mexico dear and still has occasion to visit. After learning about the hardships and challenges migrants face as they journey across Mexico, Fay wondered if she could help in some way.
Photo courtesy Shauna Fay
Along with her friend, Jacquie Nicholson, Fay held the event “Bordamos Without Borders” during Manitoba’s Culture Days this past summer. People were invited to embroider patches with an image and the phrase “Ten cuidado, no viajes solo, y ten valor,” which translates to “Be careful, don’t travel alone, and be brave.” The patches will be sewn onto bags, which will be filled with basic supplies such as soap, toothbrushes, and combs and distributed to migrants at a shelter in Ixtepec, Mexico.
“[Jacquie and I] asked what is something we could actually do? What’s something manageable? Getting supplies on the ground was the easiest thing we could think of,” says Fay.
Fay is also helping meet some of the needs in Winnipeg in her role as Health Educator at Nine Circles Community Health Centre. She works with people to set and achieve health-related goals, facilitates groups and workshops, and coordinates the weekly food bank. The interpersonal and conflict resolution skills Fay learned at MSC are useful in all aspects of her work, but particularly so on food bank day, she says.
“[Food bank] is the most meaningful relationship because it’s food—you’re sharing and helping people get what they need,” says Fay. “Food is important—it makes a huge difference in not only your health, but also your outlook.”
Fay’s interest in conflict resolution and restorative justice led her to work as a Literacy Coordinator with the John Howard Society (JHS) after graduation. JHS’ mission is “effective, just and humane responses to the causes and consequences of crime.”
Fay identifies a need for restorative justice programs and resources in Winnipeg and believes such programming could help both crime victims and those who have perpetrated the crimes.
“Restorative justice is about moving beyond the polarizing positions—about coming to an understanding of where however many parties are at,” she says. “There are success stories out there—we need to find what they are and learn from those.”
Ellen Paulley is the Writer and Social Media Coordinator for Menno Simons College