The Spiritual Side of Peacekeeping: Alumna Devi Mohan
Devi Mohan, who is from Montenegro, graduated from JCU with a major in International Affairs in 2003. She is a certified Yoga Instructor, director and senior teacher of the Himalayan School of Traditional Yoga, and the Global President of the internationally active charity ACT Foundation. She currently resides in Slovenia.
What made you decide to study at JCU?
I always dreamed of studying abroad. I discovered JCU online, back in 1999, when I was working as a Legal Translator for the United Nations Mission in Kosovo, right after the war. I was actually searching for a scholarship that could allow me to leave Kosovo and pursue my goals. The first thing that popped out was the Balkan Presidential Scholarship created by former JCU President James Creagan. I wrote my heart out in the application form and soon received confirmation that I had been awarded the scholarship, which literally changed my life.
I will never forget the day I arrived in Rome – it felt as if I had landed on another planet. I loved everything about JCU: the cozy classrooms, the spacious terraces, the morning smell of cappuccino and cornetto in Trastevere, my professors and fellow students. I especially appreciated the interactive and lively lectures and all the support we got to become better people, to go out there into the world and make a difference.
Tell us about your current work.
Aside from conducting regular Yoga sessions in Slovenia, I lead Yoga workshops and seminars internationally. Moreover, I am an ardent supporter of international peace initiatives (such as the Peace Pledge Project and the Parliament of the World’s Religions) and women’s empowerment conferences. As a member of the international spiritual mission of my husband and Spiritual Master Mohanji from its onset in 2007, I represent the Mohanji Foundation at various international events as its Global Ambassador.
What motivated you to become involved in Peacemaking?
In 1991, my family lost everything as we were forcefully moved from Croatia to Serbia. During those days of hunger and humiliation, as a 14-year-old girl finishing junior high school, I promised myself I would not be a victim of those circumstances, that I would restore my dignity through education and that I would dedicate my life to effective peacemaking, so that other children would never have to endure such agony.
How did John Cabot University prepare you for your career?
John Cabot University most definitely expanded my horizons, encouraged my curiosity and critical thinking, and developed my skills in working both on a team and independently. Most importantly, during my studies at JCU, I was given many options for my elective courses, which helped me truly discover my interests. Interfaith dialogue and finding the common thread that binds together all visible and invisible barriers of religion and identities became my passion.
Would you like to share some of your recent accomplishments?
Actively participating and speaking at the Peace Pledge Pilgrimage event in Assisi, Italy in June 2018 and then at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Toronto in November 2018, were definitely the greatest of my recent accomplishments.
The Peace Pledge Pilgrimage reunites the leaders of the world’s major religious traditions in Assisi, the home of St. Francis to “pray, celebrate, meditate and pledge to work together based on the principle that Loving Kindness and Compassion can overcome discord and lead to human unity and peace.”
The Parliament was a truly historic moment, as I happened to be the first woman from Former Yugoslavia who spoke at the world’s biggest interreligious and interfaith event, which is slowly growing into a full-fledged international interfaith movement. I was truly honored to be a part of the event that gave voice to some of the greatest spiritual leaders in the history of humankind: Swami Vivekanada, Nelson Mandela, Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso, Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, Jane Goodall, Sri Chinmoy, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, and many more. The 2018 Parliament was the biggest so far, gathering 10,000 people from 80 countries and more than 200 religious and spiritual communities.
In my presentation, I tried to emphasize that charity work, nonviolence, and respect for Mother Earth, spirituality in general, and pure unconditional love, are the key elements in achieving and preserving peace.