Hearing the Call

Darren Reiley '96

Darren Reiley ’96 didn’t realize his call to service until after he graduated. But the executive director of the Eugene-based Peace Village traces his journey back to his Pacific roots.

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Having taught at the university level, this felt natural to me, and so, with the help of other teachers, we began contracting with alternative high schools in Eugene and building a curriculum that integrates conflict resolution and nonviolent philosophies into the required course content in social studies and language arts. Our “Peace Out” high school program has since won several awards. We’ve brought both privileged and so-called “at-risk” teens to meet Nobel Peace Prize winners, to hear the likes of the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu, and to do service work for Diné elders in Arizona. (That last, by the way, was inspired by my good friend Doug Uentillie, who has been guiding Pacific’s service trip to the Navajo Nation for 16 years.)

If you had predicted that my life would look like this when I was graduating from Pacific, I would have had a few choice quips for you (and been smugly impressed by my own cleverness, no doubt).

There is simply no telling where the call will lead you. It seems hilarious to me now that the two most prominent fields of my profession—service learning and peace studies—were offered at Pacific and, while I was there, I never gave them a second glance. And yet I keep finding these almost mystical threads of my life that trace back to Pacific. Everything is connected. 

And perhaps the single most important factor in discovering that, in allowing our eyes to widen to the wonder of the world, is taking those steps in offering our power in service. Ultimately, what we give freely becomes the only thing that we truly get to own. That giving is not only the road from egocentric childhood to true adulthood but also the road to the deepest kind of power.

Darren Reiley is a 1996 alumnus of Pacific University’s College of Arts & Sciences. Today, he is executive director of Peace Village, Inc., based in Eugene, Ore. > peacevillageinc.org