Since 2000, Friends School of Minnesota has graduated nearly 200 alumni who are out in the world carrying out the mission of the school. We caught up with Matt Chrastek (FSM Class of 2004) as he heard that he will receive a Peace Corps Master’s International assignment next summer.
What have you been up to since you graduated from Friends School of Minnesota?
I graduated from Southwest High School in Minneapolis and then Hamline University, majoring in Psychology and Middle Eastern Studies. While at Hamline I studied abroad in Israel, Morocco, and Jordan and volunteered in a refugee camp near Bethlehem. For my honors project I authored a study on the different manifestations of anxiety and depression in Caucasian and East Asian/ East Asian-American populations. After graduation I returned to the refugee camp near Bethlehem to teach English to children and ran a seminar for professional development for social workers.
Last winter I started working for People Incorporated at a treatment facility for individuals with mental health and chemical dependency diagnoses. I have also been interning with an INGO called Nonviolent Peaceforce, which does unarmed civilian peacekeeping in places like Sudan, the Philippines, just started working in Myanmar, and are exploring the potential that nonviolent conflict resolution could have in Syria.
This fall, I started the International Peace and Conflict Resolution Masters programs at American University. As part of the program I will begin my Peace Corps Master’s International (MI) assignment next summer.
What part did Friends School of Minnesota play in your education?
Friends School of Minnesota actually played quite a large role in my education and the choices I have made, especially in the last two years. For me, being taught nonviolent conflict resolution and Quaker values at such a young age gave me a creative perspective to view conflict. In my last couple of years of my undergrad, I began attending Quaker meeting now and again. Returning to this place, where the sentiments of kinship and acceptance were strong, I realized that I had a passion for conflict resolution. That drove me to apply to Conflict Resolution programs. The drive and collaborative spirit of the students and faculty of American University drew me to the school.
I have been in DC for about four months and have been challenged and thrilled everyday. I feel very fortunate to have attended Friends School where my educational experience was enriched not only by the content of classes but by the environment of the teachers, staff, and especially the other students.