Meet Colton McLane, a student from a small town in Maryland. Set out in big hopes back in 2012 to attend Brigham Young University Hawai'i, and join the Peacebuilding program. He shares his inspiration behind pursuing the unique degree, how it has impacted his life, what BYU Jerusalem was like, as well as some advice for future students. He is a graduate next semester as a double major in Intercultural Peacebuilding with Anthropology and Political Science. He is receiving a Peacebuilding Certificate as well as a Certificate in International Development. 

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What inspired you to join the Peacebuilding program?

“So I guess, short-long story, when I was 16 I started regularly going to church and there was a group of kids there who wanted to do a humanitarian project over the summer. They were all Mormon kids and so they invited me and we all fundraised for a year. We went to the Dominican and built houses there with running water and electricity. We would live them in one of them and then build another house for a family. We would teach them English and do, like, farming projects with them like raising pigs and such. We would go to school with them and those kinds of things. It was a very much immersed in the culture experience. I remember asking this one girl like “why are you guys so happy?” They were some of the happiest people I had ever seen in my life. She said, “well we all believe we are brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ and we want to take care of each other.” They were the most serviceable people I had ever met. I knew because of them that I wanted to go on a mission. And so basically I thought I was going to end up running track in school because like that’s what I was really good at in high school and it was the only thing I could’ve gotten a scholarship for. So yeah, I found out about BYU Hawai’i and the Peacebuilding program and I thought that if I really want to do a job where I can travel and help people, those two things, it shouted out to me. I’m from a small town and I wanted to go there, got into the program took the first class and loved it and stuck with it."

How has it impacted your everyday living?

“What Peacebuilding has most impacted are my relationships with my family, and just people in general. It makes me want to have a different type of relationship with people. It makes me see people differently. I don’t know, I would say that my closest relationships have been directly benefited because of Peacebuilding.”

What do you hope to do after you graduate?

“I’ve always had an idea but it’s susceptible to change, things happen. But I’ve always wanted to go into the foreign service as like, a, foreign service officer or a diplomat. I’ve wanted to do that since high school, and that’s why I’ve done a double focus in IPB and Political Science. Recently I’ve done an internship with a private sector of the State Department that works with international development specifically, for example working with countries that are impoverished or in civil conflict. Working with a private sector company that does that work, I was like “oh! Maybe there are other opportunities besides just government” so that’s why I’m saying maybe I’ll go somewhere else but for right now I’m still planning to go to grad school, do conflict resolution or Peacebuilding and then apply to be a foreign service officer."

What advice do you give to future Peacebuilding students?

"Haha, so many things. But probably most importantly is that you can make absolutely anything you want out of it. Lots of people ask like “oh what’s a job in peacebuilding?” You can use any of the skills you learn here in the Peacebuilding program and apply them to your life and definitely find something. I’m not going to say it’s easy, it may require more work and creativity but like anybody could have a career involving Peacebuilding. It doesn’t only apply to your vocation or career but also to your personal life, so that’s  and get I enjoy it.

I definitely recommend going to BYU Jerusalem to anybody. It is a huge reason as to why I wanted to further my career in Peacebuilding. Not only do you directly get to see and feel experiences that deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but you definitely get to humanize both sides. It was educationally and culturally enriching, but also spiritually enriching as well. We need way more BYUH students to go out there."  

What was the average day in Jerusalem like?

“You can literally be doing anything; like one day you’ll be going to Egypt visiting the Cairo museum, another day you’ll be in, like, Bethlehem. Another day you’ll be in Capernaum, you’ll go to Galilee. You’re footsteps away from the Garden of Gethsemane. You don’t just sit in a class, you go to just about every place you read about in the scriptures. And then you can talk to people from the Palestinian Parliament and other Palestinian people. I don’t know, they literally open every opportunity for you. We got to ride camels in Petro one day and then build first aid kits for people in need another day. It was all amazing. Everyday was a really crazy but happy experience.”

Words by Colton McLane

-Written by Bailee Rasmussen