By Corrie Cron, Project Coordinator for Civic Engagement for Nonviolent Peaceforce in South Sudan

An internship during graduate school can be incredibly important. It can be your first entry into the actual field of where you want to work. Whichever organization you join can influence who you meet, what kind of work you'll do and, often, what jobs you'll be considered for in the future.

I began an internship with Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) in December 2014 at the head office, located in Brussels, Belgium. I had never heard of the organization before I saw the posting for a Communications Intern. I went to the interview trying to manage my expectations, but what I found out was that the things I was passionate about and the things that drew me into the humanitarian field were mirrored in this organization. They were passionate about peacebuilding, community dialogue, empowering women, but not trying to radically change a host country’s culture. They built relationships with all sides of a conflict and believed in sharing information and equipping others. Before the end of the interview I was hooked. Thankfully, they offered me the position.

Read more: An Intern's Journey to Becoming an International Protection Officer

Years of work are coming to an exciting point of fruition this month as the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) goes through a trial run in final preparation for the Unarmed Civilian Protection (UCP) eLearning course. The course is scheduled to launch online this fall, making the most updated training materials for UCP available worldwide. The course, being tested by 26 supporters, donors, practitioners, and academics, consists of five learning modules and will take about 40 hours of work to complete.

Read more: Unarmed Civilian Protection Course in Testing

On July 6 2016, Mel Duncan spent the morning at the Hiroshima site below where the bomb exploded in August 1945. In the evening, Mel gave a statement where he called to stop every form of cruelty and apologized to the people of Hiroshima. His statement follows.

"I remember standing by the mangle iron talking with my mother. She was crying as she ironed clothes. She was “blue” as she called it, a condition that we would now describe as “depression.” She lamented the conditions of the world. The Cold War raged. She feared nuclear war. She openly pondered whether it was right to bring children into this world. I was ten years old. Things were bad for my mom and the world and I felt responsible.

I remember going to my primary school and scoffing at the air raid drills when we would “duck and cover” under our desks.

Today we are gathered to explore a transformation from brutal and horrific violence to compassionate and holistic nonviolence: what Hibakusha Setsuko Thurlow envisions as “nothing less than a cultural transformation away from our obsession with violence and war.” Yet the world must never forget nor deny what happened here.

I am a citizen of the United States of America. My country produced and dropped atomic bombs that incinerated thousands of people and poisoned generations more. There is never a valid justification for killing hundreds of thousands of civilians. It is a crime against humanity. We do not kill one another to save lives.

I am sorry.

Read more: "Hiroshima: I am Sorry" by Mel Duncan

Former Nonviolent Peaceforce employee, Rachel Julian, and some of her colleagues are looking for collaborators on their project researching unarmed protection and peacekeeping. Currently a Senior Lecturer at Leeds University in the United Kingdom, Julian would like to reach out to the Peaceforce community to help grow this network of academic researchers interested in this field of peace studies. Here is a brief description of the work and those they are seeking:

“My colleagues and I are a small group of researchers, with experience in Nonviolent Peaceforce, Peace Brigades Intrnational, Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel and other groups who do some form of unarmed and nonviolent protection and violence prevention work, who are beginning to work together to collect and build the research evidence for this work and we're interested in creating an international network of people who do research so we can share work between ourselves more easily.

Read more: Call for Peace Research Collaborators

What is the impact that you see Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) having in the world?

On the morning of his assassination, almost fifty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Our next movement is to institutionalize and internationalize nonviolence.” Decades before King’s challenge, Rotary Founder Paul Harris said, “The road to war is well-paved, the road to peace is a wilderness.”

All over the world there are little paths being walked daily, even amidst violence, helping to build that road. Each is significant and vitally needed to create the world that King, Harris, and countless other individuals have inspired in humankind. NP’s path—providing unarmed civilian protection in conflict zones—is validating King’s dream and transforming Harris’ statement into a reason for optimism, as is the United Nation’s support for unarmed civilian protection. NP’s recent nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize is also a credible indication that hope will increase in the next 50 years. Our Midland chapter is filled with purpose and excitement in our work together to increase awareness of, and support for, NP—our own little path to peace.

Read more: Leveraging Support for Peace in Your Community - An Interview with Jeanne Lound Schaller from...

John Noltner interviewed NP's Mel Duncan for his first book, "A Peace of My Mind." The book consists of interviews with people of all backgrounds on the subject of peace and what it means to individuals in different contexts. He's now working on his second book, which focuses on interviews that he's gathered through traveling across the US over the last three years.

Check out Noltner's book, website, and podcast for Mel's interview, beautiful photography, and a unique view on what peace means to Americans. Click on the following links:

"A Peace of My Mind"

John Noltner's new project

Podcast with Mel's interview

NP supporters, friends and families:

I am writing to you today to share some news. Firstly, in the spirit of embracing the reality that change is the great constant in life, NP is under going changes at the leadership level. After nearly three years, NP’s CEO Doris Mariani, has decided that it is time to take up new challenges in her life, and has moved on from NP. Together we thank Doris for her service and extend our collective best wishes for all of her future endeavours.  

Secondly, it is with a great sense of honour to share with you that for the coming months, I will be serving as Interim Executive Director while our Board of Directors selects the permanent post-holder. Having served NP for the last seven years as country director in Sri Lanka, South Sudan and most recently in the fledgling Middle East programme, I am deeply motivated by the opportunity to contribute to the growth and development of this exceptional organization from the global perspective.  

Read more: Changes in NP Leadership - Letter from Tiffany Easthom

On May 23rd, Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) joined Jane Addams, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, Code Pink, A.J. Muste, Veterans for Peace, the War Resisters League, and many more peacemakers in the Swarthmore College Peace Collection. This archives documents the history of the peace movement and is open to all. They have been gathering and preserving the historical legacy of peace and justice efforts from as early as 1815.

Read more: NP, A Part of History

Yiran "Sharon" Sun is a financial and administrative support intern for Nonviolent Peaceforce. As a small organization, we rely immensely on the support interns and volunteers and we are tremendously grateful for their assistance. While it is difficult to put a monetary value on volunteer time, the Corporation for National and Community Service estimated that a volunteer's time in the US averaged to be worth approximately $23.57 an hour in 2015. By that calculation, Sharon has made a contribution of almost $20,000 to the organization in the past year.

Over the past year, Sharon has provided invaluable support to Nonviolent Peaceforce and even chose to forgo a paid internship to intern with Nonviolent Peaceforce. Sharon is originally from China and chose to study abroad at the University of Wisconsin- River Falls. While looking to do an internship for her Bachelor of Science, with a major in Business Administration, Sharon came across an internship job posting for Nonviolent Peaceforce on Volunteermatch.com.

Read more: Interview with NP Intern Yiran "Sharon" Sun