The six remarkable students in our 2019-20 class of International Peacemaking Program fellows will spend a year at Hartford Seminary studying mediation, interfaith dialogue and public speaking while earning a Graduate Certificate. They come from different religions, backgrounds, and parts of the world, but they are all interested in fostering peace.
Q. If you had to choose one word to describe yourself, what would it be? And how will you use this trait in the IPP at Hartford Seminary?
A. Dialogue. I see myself as dialogue under construction! I am still learning and making an impact to better relationships across religions and cultures.
Q. Why did you choose to apply for Hartford Seminary’s IPP?
Hartford Seminary is the practical reflection of a true haven for all, regardless of race, culture, sex orientation or religion. The International Peace Program gives me the privilege to fulfill my dream.
Q. Who inspires you the most? And how will you reflect this person during your time in the IPP?
A. Ezekiel Abdullahi Babagario, an IPP student of 2010. He made a tremendous impact in the field when he returned to Nigeria. My goal is to expand my scope to learn, embrace new ideas and teach to positively impact those in Northern Nigeria.
Q. Where are you from and where did you go to school before Hartford Seminary? Is there an important memory/event in your childhood that led to your interest in peacemaking?
A. I am from the jungle in the Northern Nigeria. The quest for knowing and engaging in interfaith dialogue led me to Ecumenical Institute/University of Geneva in 2017/2018 for an Ecumenical Studies at the graduate level. Coming to Hartford, Connecticut, is a dream come true. I see myself in the path of dynamic, excellence and qualified interfaith dialogue.
I have important memories of my childhood that has led to my interest to be a peacemaker. I grew up in an interfaith community (Christian, Muslim and few of the ATR — African Traditional Religions). My friends and I couldn’t differentiate any faith lines because our relationships had no religious borders. We all went to Bible studies, Sunday school, Christmas carols, New Year celebrations, Islamic Qur’an recitation, performed ablution, and prayed in the mosque. We value our relationships and the diversities we shared as children. Life was good. I want to restore the religious unity we once had, bring people back to the “united shelter.” I want the future generation to sit like we sat before, to relate like we related before, to have us as parents who will tell the story at moonlight of how we conquer the religious crisis in northern Nigeria.
Q. When you have free time, how do you spend it?
A. My heart is in Nigeria, I often think of home. I have children, many children under me, children with terrifying stories of how religious disunity has caused them unforgettable pains … I love them, I think of their well-being and how best I can be the best father to them all.
Q. Where do you see yourself going after your year at Hartford Seminary?
A. I want to further my studies, to be an expert in interfaith dialogue and community conflict analysis and resolution. I want to use my expertise to make great impact in an academic environment as well as the jungle (practically in the field). Also, train other scholars who will make an impact as peace builders through interfaith dialogue until we all make Nigeria, Africa, and the world a better place.