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Jeremy Sataraka

Jeremiah Sataraka is the Baldwim-Jenkins RD at Whitworth University.  He is an alum of Whitworth and an Act Six Alum. 

Interview by Gifti Abbo

To me, peace is a framework for life. Especially as it comes to daily struggles in reconciling competing voices that accompany cultural societal and internal pressures on you, peace is learning how to balance those voices. Both internal peace and peace with others is found in reconciliation through listening to others and yourself. But it is also used as a strategy of how to interact with other people, especially as it comes to differences, whether that is differences that stem from belief systems or political affiliations.  

I work for the Whitworth Residence Life program as a Residents Director in the Baldwin-Jenkins dorm. In my line of work I seek peace by identifying groups of people who are on the outside and bringing them into the greater Whitworth community. Inclusiveness is a large part of peacemaking in my line of work as an RD because not only does this entail empowering RA's and others campus leaders to actively work to promote inclusivity, but it also takes creativity in programming and relationship building to make others feel safe in being who they are and share in the community that Whitworth likes to promote.

In order to promote peace I think people need time to reflect on themselves. It is easier to point the finger towards others but it is harder to observe ourselves and reflect on things that we may need to change. I believe this requires mentorship by someone you can trust to be honest with you. In particular to my role as an RD, I often see students in conduct meetings when they break one of the rules on campus. And frequently, what I see within these meetings is the difference between how people want to act on the outside versus how they choose to act privately. In particular, I see this in the way people joke and put other groups down because of their sexual orientation or race or other distinguishing factor about them. Creating these personal habits of saying hurtful things about others in private while knowing it would not be accepted in public is a way or dehumanizing a person or group of people. These acts do not promote peaceful interactions but rather promote a system of oppression towards others which is a root for violence. Therefore, I believe in the importance of mentorship as a way of guiding us through the process of creating better relationships with others and helping us personally reflect on the internal motivation for our actions. People can reflect peace through simple, every day decisions.    

I believe that as a society we must learn to listen more and talk less in order to be able to foster understanding between others and create peaceful relationships. I also believe that as a society we must learn how to suspend judgment especially as it comes to those with differing communication styles or cultural concepts of time than ours. This can be seen in a variety of ways, one of which can be illustrated by the relationship between those who have a more direct form of communication and those that have a more indirect form of communication. Communication breaks between the two groups can cause one or the other to form inaccurate judgments towards the other, creating feelings of frustration, anger, and bitterness towards that person or group. However, by understanding how a person communicates and by actively working to not make an internal motivation for your communication break, we promote peace and remove cause for taking offense at a comment which may produce more negative feelings toward a person or group. Listening more allows us to put ourselves in another person’s position and see the world the way that they see it. This increases our understanding of them and gives us a context by which we can more easily actively pursue peace in our interactions rather than being defensive in our relationships.

As a word of advice for all young peacemakers out there, I would encourage you to identify what is going on in your life right now, who are you connected with, what are your resources, and how do you best utilize that to promote peace.