Gretchen Natter is the Executive Director of the Center for Public Service and Assistant Dean of College Life, Gettysburg College; and Communications Liaison, Project Gettysburg-Leon. In this podcast she describes the current political crisis in Nicaragua brought about by protests against President Daniel Ortega, the long-time leader of the Sandinista Movement that overthrew the Somoza dictatorship but is now using similar tactics to suppress opposition. The situation has directly affected the work of groups that encourage cultural interchange and assistance such as Project Gettysburg-Leon and others around the country.
On the 50th anniversary of the Tet Offensive, Lt. Col. (ret.) Thomas Dombrowsky a Vietnam War combat veteran and Adjunct Professor, Gettysburg College, asks what we have learned: the trauma of veterans was not so much outright hostility as disinterest or silence; we should not blame the soldiers for bad policy; and, above all, we need to think beyond the end of hostilities so that winning the peace becomes as important as winning the war. On the positive side, he notes that two American presidents, Obama and Trump, have visited Viet Nam.
A widely traveled, award-winning “ambassador” of peace, Rev. Sandra Mackie, Spiritual Director, Ruth House, and Recipient of the Lifetime Peacemaker Award, Interfaith Center for Peace and Justice, believes that fear is a significant factor in war, and that better understanding is a key ingredient for peace. She observes that Iran should not be lumped together with other Mid-East nations. Iranians are not Arabs, but Persians with a long and proud history. They want to be democratic and open to the West, but free and independent; and when threatened, they think it necessary to develop a nuclear program.
Richard Michael, Interim Pastor Big Spring United Lutheran Church, discussed his recent travel to the Holy Land. Having led several groups over the years, he described the sites the group visited, the orientation to the trip for participants and the benefit of the trip for participants. For him and individuals in the group, the arrival to the Holy Land was “coming home” since the sites (cities and roads) are familiar to Christians through their reading of scriptures. In addition, Michael discussed the political realities which exist. Such a trip helps pastors to preach and teach more effectively and assists participants to reflect more critically when reading scripture and listening to sermons.
In the second of two interviews (the first on immigrating to the United States), Odila describes the circumstances of his arrest, imprisonment, brutalizing, and eventual escape. He was apprehended while working with the Red Cross in the Republic of Congo because he opposed the use of children as soldiers in Congo’s civil war, some as young as seven or eight. He continued his counseling during the 17 years he lived in an immigration camp in Zambia.
Recorded live on Sunday, May 6, at St. James Lutheran Church, Gettysburg.
Justine Odila talks about his journey from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the United States. While in the Congo, he worked to help child soldiers to return to school, their families and mental stability as well as helping other young children to not become soldiers in the first place. This work resulted in him being arrested but he escaped to Zambia where he lived in a refugee camp for 17 years where he carried assisting those around him. After a 5-year vetting process, he was finally able to come to the United States via a resettlement program. He presently works at Walmart, works part-time as a mental health counselor, and attends classes at the community college.
To learn more about the Democratic Republic of the Congo you can begin here:
Chip Beck is not only a veteran and an artist, he is also a combat artist with global experience who has rendered these experiences first-hand. His academic training is in political science, but he has been capturing what he sees on paper and other surfaces since he was a small child. Beck is an artist-in-residence at the Gettysburg National Military Park. He joins Katy Giebenhain for a conversation about “stone soldiers” and his current time on Gettysburg’s battlefield.
Dennis F. Carter, Career Foreign Service Officer, Department of State addresses several important questions: How is the U.S. and the United Nations handling the refugee crisis? Is there reason to fear the influx of Syrian refugees? What religious ideology drives Isis to detest the “secular state”? Why does Russia support the Assad regime?