My social media feed was filled with clever posts yesterday (May 4th, 2015.) The Stars Wars geeks in my life are many and so were the “may the fourth be with you” memes. But every time I saw “May 4th” a very different image came to my mind. In 1970, four students were killed and nine others wounded by gunfire from the National Guard at Kent State. I went to Kent State in the 90’s, not knowing much about the events of May 4th. Yet this event directly affected the work I have dedicated my life to.
I was undecided as a freshman. I was interested in fields like teaching and social work, but knew they were not quite right. I did some searching and I found my way to the Peace and Conflict Studies program at Kent. I had never heard of anything like this, but the more I read the course descriptions, the more it sounded like a great fit for me. I chose this program for my major and found my calling.
The Center for Peaceful Change (now called the Center for Applied Conflict Management) was created because of the events of May 4, 1970. “Following the shootings, a university-wide commission was charged with recommending long-range institutional responses. The commission’s consensus recommendation was that KSU should establish a living memorial in the form of a Center to study and to promote peaceful mechanisms of change. Thus the Center for Peaceful Change was established in 1971, later renamed the Center for Applied Conflict Management.” (https://www.kent.edu/cacm/about-cacm)
I graduated from that program 20 years ago and moved to Dayton for an internship with the Dayton Mediation Center. I’m still with the Dayton Mediation Center – mediating, training community members, and working with the amazing staff and volunteers. In 2014, the Dayton Mediation Center began a collaboration with the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation (ISCT.) I am a fellow of this think tank organization and will be co-presenting with Joe Folger, one of its founders, at a conference in the Netherlands this June. My work with the Dayton Mediation Center and these new opportunities with the ISCT feel like a dream come true. I am honored to serve the community of Dayton and to work with Transformative Mediators all over the world.
As I think back on the terrible conflict that happened at Kent on May 4th, 1970, I am grateful that 45 years ago the commission decided to make a lasting legacy for promoting peaceful change that helped me be the person I am today.
Guest Blogger, Janet Mueller, is a mediator, trainer and case manager for the Dayton Mediation Center. She is a Fellow of the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation, Inc. Janet earned a Master of Science degree in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from the Department of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at Nova Southeastern University, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, and a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Conflict Management from Kent State University, Kent, OH.