Faith and International Development Conference offers free nonviolence training

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This year’s Faith and International Development Conference (FIDC) includes something different in addition to the usual panel of speakers and workshops. On Feb. 8, Christian Peacemaker Teams and the organization Hope Equals will present a free workshop on Nonviolent Direct Action.

Direct action can take the form of strikes, sit-ins or other creative forms of protest. Following the examples of Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi, students are taught to take a stand for an issue they care about without resorting to force.

Gabe LePage, a sophomore at Calvin and co-director of the conference, says, “The training will teach students to never let working for justice and living out our faith be an ‘us versus them’ struggle.”

Instead, he says, “This is a practical training about how to protect the dignity of yourself and your enemy in the midst of conflict.”

The Nonviolent Direct Action training comes after three days of events, including speakers such as Brian Fikkert, an economist working with the church to empower the poor; Rob and Tara Cahill, who serve in Guatemala; and Tarek Abuata, the representative from Christian Peacemaker Teams in Pakistan.

Dozens of organizations will also be represented at the event with information tables or workshops.

The Faith and International Development Conference attracts students from across the country. While the conference is led by students from the International Development Studies department at Calvin, students from all majors are encouraged to attend.

Whether learning about internships from international organizations or being trained in peacemaking tactics, the directors of the Conference think all students can learn from this year’s FIDC.

“The conference is about the Church’s love in action,” says LePage.

The conference will take place Feb. 6-8. Registration is $20 for Calvin students, and closes Jan. 30.