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Aaron Tolkamp

Politics - International Relations

Class of 2014

Many in North America see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as something “over there.” But for Palestinian Christians, it’s something that they live with every day. As part of my International Studies program at Redeemer, I’ve come to experience and understand their struggle.

I have been to Palestine twice already. The first time was with Hope Equals, a network of Christian students promoting reconciliation, and the second was a three-month internship at the Palestinian News Network, where I wrote and edited articles for their website. Both times I lived with a Palestinian Christian family, and met with many local groups and agencies. It gave me the chance to come alongside Palestinian Christians and begin to understand what’s really going on.

There are a lot of theories and ideas behind the study of international relations. But I relate best to the world through people – through relationships with them and their culture. What’s been so great about my program is seeing those theories and ideas at play in the world, intertwining with my daily life. I’m literally experiencing the things we studied in the classroom.

My academic program and my experiences in Palestine have opened doors for me. Last year, I was invited to present at Faith and Foreign Policy, an international academic conference. My paper, which looked at civil disobedience and political activism as they relate to Palestinian Christians, was later published by Commentary, the magazine of Citizens for Public Justice.

It’s a big world out there. Redeemer’s International Studies program has given me not just theories, but the chance to see them at work.