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Welcome to my little corner of the internet!

It’s hard to believe that a year ago I was anxiously awaiting my acceptance letter in the mail… unaware of all the experiences, people and places I would experience after being admitted to the University of Amsterdam for the Masters of Cultural and Social Anthropology. 

I’m a girl from London, Ontario, Canada. A (small, by my standards) city where the snow banks can reach 6 ft tall in the winter and the summer festivals are vibrant and multicultural. I went to school at the University of Ottawa and studied International Development and Globalization with a Minor in Anthropology. As my parents say, I certainly made the most of my undergrad. I participated in Lifesaving Sport, worked at the Bilingualism Centre, wrote articles for a bilingual online Magazine called Wingd, traveled to Senegal for a field research course and New York City for a Model UN, and throughout it all I worked part-time as a lifeguard. My life as an undergraduate student in Ottawa was fufilling and never a dull moment. I learned so much from living on my own for the first time, but after four and a half years it was time to learn more abroad.

My last name is Leunissen. My dad’s side of the family is Dutch, but until I started my Masters last February, I didn’t even know how to pronounce my last name correctly. I came to the Netherlands because I wanted to discover my roots. I study Anthropology to learn about “The Other” and realize that they are not so different from myself.

I spent the summer doing fieldwork at the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation in Ireland. I learned about the history, the complexity and the nuances of the conflict in Northern Ireland. I also learned that peace is a process, and that learning about one-another’s narratives and engaging in dialgue is key to rebuilding new relationships and reconciliation.

A friend told me that “We were not born already divided, no, that is something we decided.” I could not agree with her more.

I want to dedicate my life to achieving a more peaceful world. A world that’s safe for human differences. That’s who I am. Please enjoy my thoughts and stories on my blog.

Love, Claire.