Tag Archives: Pakistan

Naumana’s Peacebuilding: Strengthened by Love


From Inside USD – “Love” is a word Naumana Suleman uses to describe her journey in life. Within that journey is a heartfelt desire to spread compassion throughout the world.

Currently pursuing a Masters of Arts in Peace and Justice Studies in the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, Suleman will be graduating this month. Originally from a large Christian community settlement in Pakistan, Suleman came to the University of San Diego to pursue a focus in peace studies.class-of-2015

Suleman, photographed in the second row on the far right, with her classmates in the 2015 Peace and Justice Studies Cohort

Influenced by her parents, Suleman credits them for her upbringing and aspiration to “contribute her part for a positive change in the world.” Adopted at an early age, Suleman recognizes her parents’ love as a key part of whom she is today saying, “it enriched me as a person.”

Growing up in Lahore, Pakistan, which is called the “heart of Pakistan,” Suleman describes Lahore as a historic city, “a city of people with lively hearts.”

“People know that Pakistan has been facing terrorism and faith-based violence, along with some other human rights issues, which has damaged the social fabric of Pakistani society. But people should also know the bright faces of Pakistan, which are Human Rights Defenders. Many have sacrificed their lives and many are still struggling for a just and peaceful society in Pakistan. Moreover, Pakistanis have talents and a lot of abilities, but they face a lack of opportunities and a conducive environment,” Suleman said.

While working for a few years as a teacher in a government school, Suleman saw firsthand the discrimination towards different minority groups.

“I saw the discrimination, which was going on in regards to the minority children studying in that school,” Suleman said. “If the teachers, who are well-educated, are still not able to be not biased with regards to their colleagues or with regards to their students, how can this be?”

Since 2006, Suleman has worked with the National Commission for Justice and Peace, a part of the Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ Conference, and has witnessed the challenging situations for “the general masses and specifically the marginalized and minority communities in her country.” Because of this work, Suleman was inspired to pursue higher education in peace and justice studies. Choosing the USD program, Suleman praises the faculty as well as her peers, marveling at friendships she has made along the way.

“For me, this program, at this stage of my career, is an incomparable opportunity. It is something that has helped me to reflect and to learn about issues more in depth,” she said. “Having conversations and studying with my colleagues from different parts of the United States and the world, making new friendships, … and the courses being taught here are very much connected and close to my work in Pakistan.”

For Suleman, her passion for peace has always been a part of who she is. “I have chosen a human rights path because, for me, it’s the basic notion of life … the basic notion of equality.”

In a country where she sees discrimination against minorities, notably religious minorities, Suleman hopes that equality will overcome any barrier, and that one day she will see a rebuilding of the social fabric that has been damaged by religious, ethnic, and linguistic tensions.

Going forward, Suleman realizes that alone she is not able to create change, but she has the desire to contribute any way she can, hoping to “work for a world where people can enjoy their rights on the basis of equality,” and that one day, everyone will experience the joy and peace they deserve.

Suleman acknowledges that the pursuit of equality is necessary but involves risks, recognizing the importance of creating a just and peaceful society.

“We should not lose hope. We should be optimistic. I know there are several challenges. We should be a kind of strength … keeping our hope and faith and letting the light of love guide us,” she said.

— Allyson Meyer ’16

International Student Scholarship Recipients Honored at Annual Luncheon

From Inside USD – Patricia Marquez, dean of the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies (KSPS), spent much of her time at the UC Forums’ podium Tuesday emphasizing one of the University of San Diego’s key strategic goals and, in particular, her school’s vision for it.

“It is to expand our global presence. We understand that talent is everywhere. We want to bring it here, we want to nurture it and we want to develop it,” she said. “For students from developing and conflict-affected countries, coming to the U.S. and to study in the Kroc School’s Peace and Justice program would be impossible without scholarships, without your support.”

The 28th annual Scholarship Appreciation Luncheon provided all donors the opportunity to meet the student(s) they’ve supported, give a student the chance to say “thank you” in person, share a meal together and connect.

But the sincerity of Marquez’s words and impact of USD donors’ generosity — be it alumni, foundations, parents, USD employees, education supporters and proponents of peace — was echoed by Maha Paulus, a KSPS benefactor via the Paulus Peace Scholarship. It was presented in a moving video tribute to the work of 2008 Master of Arts Peace and Justice Studies (MAPJ) alumna Shobha Pradham Shrestha. And, finally, current MAPJ students Naumana Suleman of Pakistan and Mathieu Bere of Burkina Faso reiterated it.

“Because we come from the Middle East, a region where peace has not prevailed for a very long time, we wanted to provide students like (current Paulus Peace Scholarship recipient and MAPJ student) Jasmine Afshar the opportunity to become ambassadors of peace and contribute to a legacy of future generations to come,” said Paulus, who along with her husband Al, immigrated to the U.S. from Iraq in the early 1970s. Their two daughters are USD alumnae. Maha volunteered with and has learned a lot about the Kroc School’s mission, vision and important work internationally. Al Paulus has also served on the school’s board of advisors.

Said Marquez: “The Paulus family was among the first donors to the School of Peace Studies. They had faith in our promise and that a new generation of peacebuilders, focused on thinking differently, with courage, could change the face of the planet.”

Both Suleman and Bere expressed thanks to the opportunities given to them to make their USD education experience possible.

“It’s been an incomparable experience for me being here,” said Suleman, whose skill set through the MAPJ program will be used for good despite being from a country that is constantly dealing with terrorists, faith-based violence and discriminatory laws and policies toward religious minorities. Suleman received the Gandhi Fellowship, a Joan B. Kroc Scholarship in Peace and Justice Studies and a Global Grant Scholarship from the Rotary Clubs of San Diego and Imperial Counties, District 5340.

Bere, whose native country experienced a military coup last year, is focused on adding to his skill set in conflict resolution, governance, sustainable development and peace. A Fulbright Fellowship and Dean’s Graduate Merit Scholarship recipient, Bere said what he learns at USD will make an impact upon his return.

“There is an urgent need for people with specialized training in conflict resolution,” he said.

The work done by all students in the peace studies program — whether a MAPJ student or an undergraduate student in the peace and justice minor — as well as students in other USD schools provides a glimpse of what a USD education delivers and, with the support of generous donors, helps to reinforce a commitment to the mission of its founders.

“All of the ingredients, the mix, that’s really focused on our mission as a university are right here in this room,” said USD President Mary E. Lyons, PhD. “There are, as you know, so many talented and deserving men and women around the world who benefit from this university’s mission and education. The only limitations are resources. … The work we’re doing on behalf of the greater good has tremendous impact around the world. You are all a part of that mission. All of us share in that.”

— Ryan T. Blystone

Learn about supporting USD scholarships and other USD giving opportunities

Photo descriptions (clockwise from top): Naumana Suleman speaks to the audience; Mathieu Bere; and Vice President and Provost Andy Allen chats with current USD students, each of whom received scholarship assistance through generous donor support.