Syracuse, NY (October 25, 2011) Studying in Northern Ireland was an experience that forever changed the life of Diana Webster, a program intern at the Near East Foundation.
As an undergraduate at Bucknell University, she majored in philosophy with a minor in peace studies. During her junior year abroad, an interest was sparked – and the rest, as they say, is history.
Nine months after receiving her undergraduate degree, Diana applied to the University of Ulster’s Magee College to pursue a masters in peace and conflict studies.
The city of Ulster, rich in history and political strife, was a great place to launch into the field of peace-building. Many of Diana’s professors were active participants in the ongoing negotiations between Protestants and Catholics. Her coursework focused on international affairs, the origins of conflict, and the dynamics of conflict and resolution in divided societies.
As part of her program, she interned in the public policy unit of INCORE, the International Conflict Research Institute, a joint project of the United Nations University and the University of Ulster. The atmosphere there encourages academic research that can be applied in real-world situations.
After graduation, Diana’s journey continued to a small village inside the state of Israel named Wahat al Salam/Neve Shalom, which means “oasis of peace.” Located between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, it is the only integrated village in Israel where Palestinians and Jewish-Israelis voluntarily live together, in equal numbers, and choose to educate their children in the same school.
In addition to a communications and development office, where Diana worked, the village is home to a primary school, a peace school, and a spiritual center. “Seeing the relationships between Palestinian and Israeli families was incredible,” she says of the experience. “I learned first-hand that cooperation and common ground is attainable – even in the heart of a conflict zone.”
Now living in her hometown of Syracuse, New York, Diana is bringing her background in conflict resolution to her work with the peace-building program at the Near East Foundation. “I am captivated by NEF’s legacy of impact, and I’m truly excited to contribute,” she said about the opportunity.
Eventually, Diana hopes to find a job with an international NGO where she can pursue her career goal to help advance stability in fractured societies.