A Cornell College graduate is back in Iowa telling Franciscan nuns and schoolchildren about what it’s like to be part of an organization that’s been targeted by al-Qaeda. Abigail Ozanne, a member of Christian Peacemakers, says she was strongly influenced by her mother.
When Abigail was younger, her mother worked with a group called Fellowship for Reconciliation and led groups to Israel and Palestine in the late 80s, and led a group to Iraq right before the first Gulf War. “That left quite an impression on me.” Ozanne’s interest in the Middle East grew as she got involved with a peace group in college, and she visited that region in 2003 and again the following year.
They did a lot of talking with peace groups there, both Israeli and Palestinian, and seeing life for themselves. When she joined the Christian Peacemakers group, she got some intensive training at what they jokingly call “boot camp for peacemakers.” Still, she’s under no illusion that volunteers will solve all the problems of the war-torn region.
Just the fact that an “international” is there watching makes a difference in the likelihood of violence, she says. They also take notes and videotape situations, and step in with the training they’ve had to defuse tense situations. She spoke last night and today to students at Prince of Peace Catholic Academy in Clinton
“A lot of Jesus’ message for us about how to get along with each other is applicable in the larger world,” Ozanne says. “Jesus had a pretty radical message about nonviolence and there are ways that they can bring that into their own lives.” Ozanne, who taught fourth-grade for a year in Kansas, says she hopes to go back to teaching but also intends to keep peace work as part of who she is and what she does.
Ozanne grew up in Minneapolis but her parents are from the Quad Cities. She graduated in from Cornell in 2005 with a teaching degree, and will speak tonight (Tuesday) at Cornell in the Commons at 7 P.M.