Koinonia Farm’s vision statement is “love through service to others, joy through generous hospitality, peace through reconciliation.” All of our guest rooms are named after people who have come before us and embodied these ideas. These peacemakers are from all over the world and from all different periods of history. This “great cloud of witnesses” and their stories encourage us to keep pursuing love, joy, and peace in our life and work.
Rachel Corrie was born on April 10, 1979. She was the youngest of three children born to Craig and Cindy Corrie. She grew up in Olympia, Washington. From a young age, she wrote poetry and recorded her thoughts in journals. She also had an awareness of suffering and injustice in the world. As a high school student, she spent six weeks in Russia as a foreign exchange student. This experience help continue her international outlook and her realization of how privileged her own upbringing was.
We have got to understand that people in third world countries think and care and smile and cry just like us.
We have got to understand that they dream our dreams and we dream theirs.
We have got to understand that they are us. We are them.
-poem written by Rachel Corrie at age 10
After high school, Corrie attended The Evergreen State College. She took a year off from her studies there to volunteer with the Washington State Conservation Corps. Corrie worked with patients in a mental hospital and continued visiting with them for three years. After September 11, 2001, Corrie became involved in political activism. In her senior year of college, she set up a study abroad program in which she traveled to Rafah, a city in Gaza, to establish a relationship between her own city of Olympi and the city of Rafah.
Corrie worked with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). This organization, founded in 2001, is a Palestinian-led group committed to non-violently resisting the oppression and occupation of Palestinians. Much of Rachel Corrie’s work with ISM involved getting to know the people in this area and working to protect them. She sat with families in houses to protect them from demolition, sat in front of wells to protect them from being destroyed, and escorted children to school to keep them safe.
Many people want their voices to be heard, and I think we need to use some of our privilege as internationals to get those voices heard directly in the US, rather than through the ﬁlter of well-meaning internationals such as myself. I am just beginning to learn, from what I expect to be a very intense tutelage, about the ability of people to organize against all odds, and to resist against all odds.
On March 16, 2003, during one of these sit-ins, Rachel Corrie was killed by a bulldozer as it moved to demolish a house. Her death pulled attention to the situation in Gaza and became the center of much conversation and debate. Shortly after her death, her emails back home were published and her words inspired many readers. Her parents continue to ﬁght to prosecute the people responsible for her death. Rachel’s words have been complied into a play, My Name is Rachel Corrie, and a book, Let Me Stand Alone.
I should at least mention that I am also discovering a degree of strength and of basic ability for humans to remain human in the direst of circumstances—which I also haven’ t seen before. I think the word is dignity. I wish you could meet these people. Maybe, hopefully, someday you will.