On the International Day of Peace, 2016, Peru Country Manager Daniel Salazar interviewed retired pharmacist and 7-time volunteer Gary Gullikson in service in Poland. Gary said while he regularly prays for peace, he yearns to turn his prayer into more practical actions. That’s what led him to his first Global Volunteers Poland service program in 2013. And, he hasn’t stopped serving.
When Gary first served in Poland teaching conversational English to children and teenagers, he couldn’t stop going back year after year. What came out of this service program then? And how could teaching English to teenagers have anything to do with promoting peace?
“I used to pray for peace. But you can do something more practical too. When you serve in a different culture, you make friends, and through that you are working for peace.”Gary Gullikson
Gary explains that as he’s served around the world, he’s gotten to know people by discussing issues respectfully and accepting their views on things. “You make friends, and you realize that people, regardless of cultural differences, still are people just like yourself, with similar needs and dreams. In fact, their lives are not that different from yours despite material or cultural differences,” Gary maintains.
Gary adds that getting to know people personally helps explode stereotypes such as Americans being unforgiving or anti-immigrant. “There are many Americans who welcome immigrants and believe that they also have a right to come to the U.S. and live respectfully. We shouldn’t live on the basis of fear; they shouldn’t live on the basis of fear, ” he explained. “When one welcomes others, and works with others (in a different culture), that creates friendships. Those friendships are the basis of understanding and what reduces the fear of violence and brings peace.”
“Friendships are the basis of understanding and what reduces the fear of violence and brings peace.”Gary Gullikson
Gary wages peace as a “citizen ambassador.” He’s chosen to invest in other people, to learn from others while he teaches, to serve, and in that he is gaining.
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