JustJobs Scholarship Scholarship

Majoring in conflict resolution to affect social and political change

Amyn Rajan JJ[H]uman encounters of two kinds have led me to pursue a major in the field of conflict resolution: those that proved to be obstacles to be hurdled over or circumvented and those that dovetailed into enriching conversations.

In 2007, my father visited me from Pakistan and engaged me in a conversation about President Pervez Musharraf abdicating his presidency. While discussing the criminal charges against him, we realized that even well intended leaders are quickly faced with opposing foreign, religious, and political forces. At the time of this conversation, I was pursuing my Masters in Public Affairs.

My decision to now pursue a degree in conflict resolution reflects my 18-year history in Pakistan as well as the experiences of other Pakistani youth. Like me, my friends boarded a crowded public bus on an ordinary day. Like me, they saw a man at the front of the bus— a man who was ordinary in every way except that he carried a gun. Amidst the frightening commotion, they also saw another ordinary man light the front two tires on fire. Being that these types of experiences were prosaic instances in our lives, we, the ordinary youth, went about our day and caught the next bus. I once asked my father if he sees any hope for war-torn Islamic nations. He said, “Let’s see what the young generation can do.”

Soon after, I partnered with a U.S. Army Major on the social business project, Janan Collection. We raised awareness about the effects of war on Iraqi women, gathered local support, and organized the First National Press Conference & Panel Discussion on issues faced by Iraqi refugees. I was enthralled at my ability to positively impact so many vulnerable lives. My journey toward a career in conflict resolution thus began. I sought an academic portal into this area and registered for an International Conflict Resolution class. There, I read John Paul Lederach’s The Moral Imagination: The Art and Soul of Building Peace, which demonstrated that the peace-building process could take place outside of high profile peace talks and government treaties. After reading the story of a professor who engaged a Tajik warlord in a discussion on poetry and soon thereafter convinced him to enter into peace negotiations, I realized that my own diverse background in nonprofit, interfaith work, and artistic projects could make me an ideal candidate for a degree in conflict resolution.

My two main objectives in pursuing this degree are 1. to learn how to promote the collaborative efforts of key players in various types of conflicts as well as 2. to learn innovative ways of catalyzing social change through conflict resolution. I intend to focus on the South Asian and Middle-Eastern regions so that I can fulfill my long-term goal of affecting social and political change there.

We are proud to announce Amyn Rajan is one of the current JustJobs Scholarship finalists. Vote for his essay (Facebook ‘Like’ and other social media sharing options in left column), click the ‘star’ just above comments section below, and/or leave comments of support to help us with the selection process.