Peace Scholar Post: Nikolaj Hagen

I can honestly say that my time in Norway has affected the way I look at the world more than any other experience that I’ve had in college. Coming to Concordia, I assumed that I was a comparatively worldly person. I had a sense that I understood what was going on in the wider world, and I thought that I had many of the answers. If nothing else, my time as a Peace Scholar shook me out of my complacency. Meaningful conversations and debates with with my fellow Peace Scholars and the ISS community at large have given me much broader understanding of the world. And the things that I learned in the Peace Scholars seminar have given me a new understanding of peace, which has in turn affected the way that I understand my classes back at Concordia, especially as a political science major.

In my political science classes, I have been able to look at things from a different perspective. Whereas before I thought almost exclusively about big picture, inter-state events, I am now able to consider more clearly the human cost of such actions. It has always been easy for me to get lost in all the X’s and O’s of international politics. But my experience in Oslo has allowed me to put faces to different regions of the world. With over 500 students from 96 different countries, there are a lot of countries that now have faces and names attached to them. It might sound naïve, but as Steiner Bryn always told us, “it’s harder to shoot at somebody when you’ve had a cup of coffee with them.”

I recently was able to share about the Peace Scholar program during chapel at Concordia. I talked about how the experience affected my Christian faith and how I thought that we are called to strive for peace in every sense of the word, within ourselves, within our immediate community, and in the world at large. And through my involvement with the Student Peace Alliance, I was able to moderate a faculty panel on Dirty Wars, a film that looks at U.S. drone and Special Forces policies.

As far as how I’m going to apply the experience in my future plans, I’m trying to decide what I want to pursue in graduate school; most likely something in the field of international relations. Hopefully someday I will be able to put the lessons that I learned in Oslo into practice in a meaningful way. One of the programs that I’m considering is at a university in Trondheim, so I might even be continuing my studies in Norway once again!

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