Anna Crumley-Effinger has returned home this week to share stories from her internship in the Solomon Islands as part of her studies as a Rotary Club Peace Fellow.
Crumley-Effinger spoke Tuesday to the Richmond Rotary Club and presented the group with a banner from the Honiara Rotary Club in the capital city of the Solomon Islands.
The 2003 Richmond High School graduate and 2007 Earlham College graduate is preparing to embark on her second year at the Rotary Peace Center in Uppsala, Sweden, where she is pursuing her master’s degree in peace and conflict studies.
“I have always been really interested in relationships with people,” Crumley-Effinger said. “Growing up in Richmond, I remember hearing a lot — mainly about the Middle East — from (former Earlham College president) Landrum Bolling, who went to my church. That got me interested in finding out more about other parts of the world.
“Then when I was at Earlham, I went to Rwanda and saw the communities devastated during the genocide and that made me want to find a way to do something. I grew up in the Quaker community, which since its existence has been for peace.”
So Crumley-Effinger spent the summer in the Solomon Islands, a sovereign country consisting of various islands northeast of Australia.
She said adding to the history of violence in the area are the remnants of World War II battles, including the Guadalcanal campaign in 1942-43.
Crumley-Effinger shared photos from her work and travels in the Solomon Islands, painting a picture of a former war-torn country attempting to find peace among poor economic conditions. Specifically, she worked closely on peace building and trust building with groups of women and youth.
“Anna is definitely an amazing woman — generous, smart and caring,” said Rotary Club member Jodie Scheiben. “If the world were full of people like her, we wouldn’t have conflicts anymore. Anna is very inspiring and deserving of the Rotary Peace Fellowship. She embodies everything the scholarship stands for — generosity, kindheartedness, and being effective in spreading peace.”
Crumley-Effinger said her experiences have helped her learn a lot about the net effect of violence on people’s lives.
“What do I want to do?” lamented Crumley-Effinger when asked about her future. “I would like to work with people, you look and it is mostly military returning home with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), but even in developing countries, you just want to help them rebuild their life.
“When you are with people, you don’t even speak the same language or understand each other, but you play games and you realize that the same things that make you laugh make them laugh. You really connect on a basic level.”
Her summer consisted of working with the United Nations Development Program in the Solomon Islands under the Human Security Project on "Tensions" Reduction, Reconciliation and Rehabilitation. One achievement of her work was conducting a training on Peace Building to about 300 unemployed youths in the Solomon Islands.