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“Bridging the Divide: Worlds Apart? From the Military to Peacebuilding and Humanitarian Action”

By Jorge Delgado Golusda (Duke MIDP ’24)

Summer 2023 AFE Blog Post Series

One of the first questions I get asked way too many times is why an Army Officer chose to study international development, as people often see with skepticism the role of military forces in this world, often seeing them in their natural role, which is defense. But the truth is that Armed Forces around the world have always played a major role in this context. This is especially the case with the Chilean Armed Forces and particularly with the Army Рthe institution that I have served with love and pride for more than 20 years. 

Due to Chile’s special geographical position, we are exposed continuously to different natural disasters – earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, floodings, volcano eruptions, wildfires, droughts, you name it! And one of the first responders in every single event is the Army. Not only that, the Army is a permanent resource to connect to isolated places in my country, helping residents of those places year-round with their needs. In the international context, Chile’s commitment to international peace and development has translated into a military peacekeeping presence in different missions since 1948. My experiences in the Army have taken me almost every single year of my career to places where it was most needed due to natural disasters. I have also served in isolated locations where Chileans reside and even helped to promote peace and stability in faraway places like Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Middle East.

Thanks to Rotary, I have been able to take this experience and deepen my knowledge as a Peace Fellow at Duke University by pursuing my Master in International Development Policy (MIDP) with the opportunity to enhance my education at UNC-Chapel Hill. All this knowledge I have gained for the past year – thanks to an amazing faculty and school – has been put into practice with my Applied Field Experience (AFE). Though I had many ideas of where I could potentially do it, I was drawn to the work that PartnersGlobal – an international NGO – has been promoting and developing in different parts of the world since 1989. Fortunately, I was accepted as a Fellow of their Global Initiatives program.

One of the most attractive things about PartnersGlobal is their innovative approach that combines locally-led partnerships for peace and conflict transformation to empower communities and promote social justice. Under this concept, I am currently assigned to work on a Guatemalan-based project with local institutions.

PartnersGlobal is implementing a multi-modal capacity-building program on conflict prevention and mediation, where I am helping with the development of the curricular structures of the course as well as conducting online classes.

This has been a unique experience where I had for the first time in my professional career the opportunity to use those skill sets and experience given by the Army to apply them from a civilian perspective, understanding new points of view for peacebuilding in a conflict dynamic and seeing the applicability of techniques I have learned over the past year regarding collaboration and mediation. This instruction in conflict transformation, under the exceptional leadership and mentorship of practitioners of the field with years of experience on a worldwide scale that have fostered my opinions and ideas, has promoted a collaborative and supportive work environment and helped me to enhance my analytical thinking, communication, and project management abilities.

My fellowship at PartnersGlobal allowed me to reinvent my professional identity outside my military background as well as stimulate personal growth and transformation. I have been able to contribute to a narrative focused on peace, social justice, and human rights by immersing myself in the organization’s work. This transition allowed me to use my abilities and experiences as well as focus on the potential of my military experience for positive change, embracing a more holistic approach to peacebuilding, always striving to live up to Rotary’s motto “Service above Self.”

During this period, I also had the opportunity to participate in the Duke Global Policy program in Geneva, Switzerland. This one-week intensive course gave me the opportunity to learn from leading scholars and a wide range of international Organizations and NGOs on pressing issues like refugees and human rights through a humanitarian lens. I had the exceptional opportunity to participate in this program with colleagues from different backgrounds from all across the world and exchange opinions and best practices, all aiming at one common goal: to make this world a better place. I was able to put my military experience and academic background into practice and debate realistic and holistic approaches to humanitarian action.

My Applied Field Experience at PartnersGlobal and the Duke Global Policy Program in Geneva enabled me to successfully combine my military expertise with the areas of peacebuilding and humanitarian work. I have been able to contribute to the purpose of promoting sustainable peace and social justice by using my abilities, understanding conflict dynamics, and most importantly: embracing new narratives. This confirms my belief in the ability of people with military backgrounds to contribute meaningfully to peacebuilding efforts around the world and inspires me – along with the work that “my brothers in arms” (my dear Peace Fellows) do every single day in their respective fields – to continue working for a more peaceful and inclusive¬†society.

 

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