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In January 2010, Professor Pushpa Iyer led fourteen students from Middlebury College and the Monterey Institute of International Studies on a course named “Challenges to Peacebuilding in Sierra Leone.” This course was part of the J-term curriculum, offered in the interim period between the fall and spring semesters. The students spent two weeks in the war-torn West African nation conducting interviews with individuals and organizations who are working to build the foundations for a stable civil society and lasting peace. They also visited locations and monuments with historical significance to the brutal eleven-year civil war that ended in 2002. Members of the group reflected on their experience on their blog and wrote research papers on different aspects of peacebuilding upon their return.

Subsequently, The Women’s International Perspective ( worked with Professor Iyer and twelve of the students to produce and publish a series of articles on Sierra Leone. Professor Iyer, the Program Coordinator for Conflict Resolution at the Monterey Institute, launched the series with her own reflection on the future of Sierra Leone and a new student article is published every Tuesday and Thursday. This is the second time Professor Iyer has collaborated with the WIP and there are plans for further cooperation in the future: “I think it is wonderful for our students to have their articles published. It is great for their self-confidence and also for their resumes.”

Six students have already published their articles:

  • Veronica Beebe — “Sierra Leone: Will This Place Know War Again?”
  • Mawuor Dior — “Witnessing First-Hand: The Crux of Sierra Leone’s Conflict”
  • Sughey A. Ramírez — “Motorbike Riders in Sierra Leone: Menace to Society or Social Indicator?”
  • Shauna Kelly — “From War to Peacebuilding
  • Rishna Gracie — “Sierra Leone’s Memory of a Violent Past”
  • Amanda Pope — “Surviving on Hope in Sierra Leone’s Isolated Camps”

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Jason Warburg

Eva Gudbergsdottir