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Tufts University Student Turns Class Project into International Peace Initiative


Originally from San Jose Costa Rica, Mauricio Artiñano says it was in high school where the idea to study abroad was presented to him. After giving it some thought, he knew going to college abroad would be the best thing for pursuing his interest in international relations. “I am majoring in International Relations and in tenth grade of high school I became involved with the Model United Nations program and that got me interested in the field of diplomacy, international relations, international development so I continued to read up on international affairs and reading newspapers from the states and other parts of the world,” he says.

“I came here to Tufts and I am very happy with the program here because its very broad and its very inter-disciplinary so I am able to take classes in everything from Political Science to History, Psychology even things like Nutrition and Art History. I really enjoy that because it gives me a very broad understanding of different regions that I am studying.”

While taking a class two years ago Mauricio says he began thinking about the great potential that exists for the successful Central American experiment in peace building to provide lessons for other countries and regions pursuing peaceful resolutions to armed conflicts. “I took a class here at Tufts called ‘The Education for Public Inquiry and International Citizenship’ and it is a very intensive course where you sort of highlight the courses, you get to meet many different people and speakers are brought here to interact with the students and I was able to meet with a man name Timothy Philips who founded a non governmental organization called ‘The Project on Justice in Times of Transition’ that does work on transitional justice, rule of law and issues like that,” he says.

“He had a lot of experience with Central America and he knew a lot of people in Central America so since I am a Central American I met with him and we started talking about different things and one of the conclusions we came to was that the peace process in Central America which is quite possibly the most successful peace process of the last twenty or thirty years was really forgotten by the international community probably because it was so successful.

People sort of like to concentrate on everything that is going bad in the world,” he says. “We talked about how the international community could really benefit from an exploration of what lesson the experience of peace building in Central America could give to the United Nations, to other international organizations and to different countries and regions that are undergoing peace processes.”

Determined to do something and with the support from Tufts University, Mauricio wrote a proposal and a conference was held in Spain to discuss the lessons learned involving the Central American peace process. “I started drafting a proposal and that summer I traveled around Central America with Habitat for Humanity and I sent emails, made phone calls to different people who were involved with the peace process.

I presented my idea to them and it was met with a lot of enthusiasm because there was a consensus that first of all that the world could really learn from what happen in Central America and second that there needs to be more discussion in Central America about both the successes and failures of the peace process,” he says. “So I continued to work on the proposal, got more students from Tufts involved and then we continued to work with ‘The Project on Justice in Times of Transition’ including the Toledo International Center for Peace in Spain who offered to host the conference where this initiative to explore the lessons that Central America can give the rest of the world could be launched and the meeting happened this past March 1st through the 3rd and it was a great success.”

What's amazing about his university Mauricio says the opportunity to take a project or idea of your own and turn it into a reality. “Tufts I think is a very unique school because not just through my experience, but I have seen how many of my friends and classmates have been able to come up with fully personal visions and dream projects and the university gave us the support, not only financially, but logistically, emotionally, and intellectually to pull the projects off,” he says. “You know I obviously could never have done this kind of project without all the intellectual preparation that I got here, the funding that I received and the support from my teachers and mentors.”

After graduation this month, Mauricio is looking forward to going home. He says he plans to pursue a career in diplomacy and conflict resolution.

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