Students in the “Establishing Peace in Communities” class said one of their goals is to learn how to establish peace wherever they may reside in the world. Peacebuilding Special Instructor Seamus Fitzgerald said though service may come in sizes big or small, what’s important is looking outward to “help both parties to feel loved and achieve their goals.”
Chamberlain McCracken, a senior from Utah studying intercultural peacebuilding (IPB), said, “As a peacebuilding major, one of our greatest goals is to learn how to establish peace internationally. If we want to understand how to do that, it is just as important to understand how to establish peace in our own communities.”
In the classroom, Fitzgerald said he instructs his students on the impact of service within our local community. “Service is not just about showing up to clean someone’s yard. Service is a powerful tool that allows us to build strong relationships with those in our community. When we serve, we learn to feel a little bit more of the love that Heavenly Father feels for each of His children.”
Each Saturday during the 2019 Spring Semester, students participate in and plan different service projects within the community. One student, Rachel Paul, a sophomore from Utah studying IPB, said this has helped her to understand how doing service can be simple and available to anyone.
“Service can be given in many different forms. It really comes down to doing something for someone that can help make their life easier and help you to feel more of God’s love for them. If you want to serve in your community, you just have to start looking and asking and you will find opportunities for sure.”
On Sat. May 25, Fitzgerald’s class joined in the service at Kaupaka farm in Hauula. Kaupaka is a Church welfare farm maintained by the missionary couple Mark and Marlene Ellingson. Students planted taro, cleared plots of land to be used for farming, and weeded different areas of the farm.
The Ellingson’s expressed their gratitude for the volunteers. Sister Ellingson said, “We welcome volunteers with open arms. We have lots of groups and individuals who come to serve here each Saturday. Keeping the farm up and running to fulfill its purpose as a welfare farm takes a lot of hard work. Having the students offer their time is a blessing not only to us but to those who use the farm to grow food for their families.”
For those not involved in IPB, Fitzgerald invited them to utilize the resources on campus to find ways to participate in serving the community. “One of the awesome things about BYUH is that the school has service projects all the time. Sometimes it is school-wide, sometimes it is within certain clubs or wards, but I promise that if you want to serve, you will find fellow students who want to serve with you. My best piece of advice is to make it a priority, sign up, and show up.”
Fitzgerald added, “Sometimes people think if they serve me, I will, in turn, love them more. In this class, we call that an ‘inward mindset.’ On the flipside, when we look at it with an ‘outward mindset,’ we see that our service is not about what one side gains, but rather more about how we can help both parties to feel loved and achieve their goals.
“When students give up their time to serve in the community, they are letting the community know that both as a campus and a student body, we are grateful to be here. We are not just here to receive the bounty of blessings that come from being here in Laie, but we are also here to give back and serve.”
McCracken, as she reflected on the privilege it is to be in Laie, concluded service is one of the ways we can show Heavenly Father our gratitude.
“During the groundbreaking of the university, David O. McKay prophesied of the amazing people and blessings that will come from those who attend school here and also reside in Laie. It’s so cool to hear of the prophecies that were made, but we also have to be here and help sustain the prophecies. The Saturday service projects we do may seem like a pebble in the grand mosaic of the prophet’s vision for Laie, but nonetheless, I’m glad to be a part of it.”