Canadian School of Peacebuilding

CSOP Participant Profile – Duha Alassaf

by Aaron Epp

‘Everybody is accepted’ at the CSOP, Jordanian peacebuilder finds

Duha Alassaf is passionate about peacebuilding.

“Peacebuilding is a subject that should be mandatory in schools and universities for how to deal with others,” she said. “If people only knew peacebuilding, we wouldn’t have these conflicts and wars.”

It’s this interest that led Alassaf to the Canadian School of Peacebuilding last June. Alassaf, who lives in Amman, Jordan, was searching for professional development opportunities online when she found the CSOP.

“I found this program and it just caught my eyes and my heart (because) it’s about peacebuilding,” she said.

Alassaf is a master’s student in the human rights and human development program at the University of Jordan.

She also works as a health officer with the international NGO Medair. Her work involves assessing the psychological status of Syrian refugees and conducting group therapy sessions with them.

At the CSOP, Alassaf took the course Expressive Trauma Integration: Caregiving and Conflict Transformation.

She believes the things that she has learned will aid her in her work with Medair.

“Mostly we work with people who are traumatized, and we are helping them overcome their traumas,” Alassaf explained. “This course is helping me to get familiar with other types of work other than just the use of talk therapy.”

She credited the professor, Dr. Odelya Gertel Kraybill from Lesley University (Cambridge, MA), and the CSOP staff with creating a safe environment for students to learn about sensitive subjects.

“What I really do like the most is the people here,” Alassaf said, adding that as a Muslim woman coming from Jordanian culture, she didn’t have any problems fitting in at the CSOP. “The acceptance and positive vibes are all over the place.”

Alassaf is currently writing a dissertation about using community-based rehabilitation as a tool to promote social justice.

She plans to continue the work she is doing, and hopes to return to the CSOP.

“I just want to thank Canadian Mennonite University, because it has made a small world inside it where everybody is accepted.”