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Peacemaker Profile: Emily Barger of Connecticut

Our 2017-18 class of International Peacemaking Program fellows includes nine students, four from the U.S. and five from other countries. We asked each one of them the same set of questions.

Q. Briefly tell us about your educational background.

A. I graduated from Emerson College in May 2017 with a BA in Film Production and a Women and Gender Studies minor. I spent my final semester interning at a nonprofit social justice film production company in Los Angeles.

Q. How did you learn about Hartford Seminary’s International Peacemaking Program?

A. I learned about the International Peacemaking Program through my Connecticut network; I grew up 30 minutes from Hartford and have attended St. Patrick-St. Anthony Church in Hartford my whole life.

Q. Why are you interested in learning about peacemaking?

A. I hope to use my film and liberal arts education to create content that matters, whether that be short videos for social justice nonprofits, documentaries about important issues, or narrative work that pushes the boundaries of Hollywood’s depiction of religion, race, gender and sexual orientation.

Q. How do you hope to use your skills after a year of training as a peacemaker?

A. I hope to bring my peacemaking skills to places with firmly formed opinions — whether they be about religion, politics, or anything else contentious — and create an environment in which a dialogue can exist, and hopefully foster long-term communication. In the film world, I have found that the goal of the film can get in the way of forming a deep understanding of certain issues; I hope to bring nuance to these types of films with my peacemaking skills.

Q. Tell us a little about your home country and the interreligious conflict it faces.

A. As an American, I think interreligious conflict is deeply rooted in this country but oftentimes glossed over because we’re seen as “the land of the free.” Especially now, there is a lot of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in the U.S., and I hope to bring what I learn about Islam, Judaism and interfaith dialogue to wherever I end up. As a Christian, I am privileged to not face the same discrimination my Muslim and Jewish brothers and sisters do, so I feel it is my duty to use this privilege and my education at the seminary to break down stereotypes.

Q. Give us a quick description of your home life (family, where you live, etc.)

A. I grew up with a Catholic mom and a Lutheran dad (who also went to a seminary!) and have two brothers–one older, one younger.  I went to a very open-minded and accepting Catholic church, which helped shape my values of loving my neighbor as myself, just as Jesus taught.  I was raised in Canton, CT, my whole life, and have had the same best friend since second grade. Though I didn’t love living in a small town growing up, I’ve come to appreciate the education I got, the friends I made, and the beauty of my quaint New England hometown; however, I still want to live in a major city after I finish my year at the seminary–hopefully New York!

Q. Hartford Seminary is using the phrase “We Were Built for This Time” to address the deep divisions in our country and across the world. What does that mean to you?

I think now more than ever, the world needs peacemakers. Hartford Seminary is producing the next generation of peacemakers, within communities small and large.  The International Peacemaking Program is especially great because it gives each of us different perspectives on the world, the challenges we each face, and how to best go about solving those issues. I already feel inspired by my Jewish and Muslim roommates, and I know I will continue to grow on both personal and educational levels as the year goes on.  I feel confident that the skills I’m learning at the seminary will help me to bring together currently divided people in various communities in my life, and it will do the same for my peers.

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