Celebrating Alumni Stories: Carl Stauffer ’82

September 18, 2022 / Andrea Wenger
Carl Stauffer '82
Carl Stauffer '82

In 2022, EMS will celebrate Janelle Zook Cunalata ’02, Carl Stauffer ’82, and Ethan Zook ’72 during Homecoming activities, Oct. 14 and 15. We celebrate alumni stories to hear each others’ journeys since high school and to be inspired by lives of service, professional contributions, Christian commitment, and community engagement. More details here. 

Carl Stauffer ‘82

Q: What years did you attend EMS? What “brought” you to the school? How was it?

I attended EMHS 1980-1982, my junior and senior years. My parents moved to back from church work in Vietnam and the Philippines to Elkhart, Indiana, to complete seminary studies at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary. I attended Bethany Christian School in Goshen, Indiana, my sophomore year. Then, my parents took a pastorate in Harrisonburg and that brought me to EMHS. This was my 3rd high school to attend, so I told my parents that if they moved again I would dorm at EMHS. The highlights of my time at EMHS were literally living across the street from the school, running cross country, touring choir, senior play, end of year banquets, and spring break trips.

Q. What was your academic and professional journey from EMHS to where you are today?

In 1988, my wife, Carolyn, and I moved to Richmond, Virginia, to plant an interracial church with Virginia Mennonite Conference in the city. The church was unable to fully support us so I found a part-time job as the Executive Director of the Capital Area Victim Offender Reconciliation Program (CAVORP) in 1991. I had already been trained by the Community Mediation Center in Harrisonburg, so this move into Restorative Justice mediation in the courts was a natural fit. Three years later, we moved to South Africa with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and my first job there was as a “Mediation Trainer”’ with a peace non-governmental organization in Johannesburg. From there I became the Education & Training Coordinator, then worked with the South African Truth and Reconciliation Committee (1995-1997) and lastly became the Regional Peace Advisor for MCC in the Southern Africa region (1999-2009). After a three-year MCC term turned into 16 years, we (my wife and I and our two children) returned to Harrisonburg with our doctorates to teach at EMU (2010-2021). In 2021, I took a job with the United States Institute for Peace (USIP) in Washington DC covering the reconciliation portfolio.

Q. Any aspect of EMHS that served you well? Anything that was hard?

My favorite course was called Current Issues/Affairs with Harvey Yoder. This really sparked my interest in the fields of peace and conflict studies. Touring choir and spring break service trips satisfied my travel and adventure needs. My senior year I was told I needed another math or science to get into college, so I took chemistry with Mr. David Mumaw. It was the hardest course I took at EMHS, but Mr. Mumaw was very patient and worked with me to get through it.

Q. Involvements that have given you joy in addition to professional work?

I continue to sing, dance, draw and enjoy worship. Jazz music is my favorite with a bias for South African jazz. Vietnamese food is by far my favorite. I head to the beach for holidays;there is nothing more soothing to my soul than sleeping to the sound of ocean waves. I love a good dose of humor and cruising on my motorcycle.

Q. Any words to the EMHS of today? Hopes for the school today and going forward?

EMHS was formative for me. My faith and vocation were shaped by these two years in significant ways. Daryl Zook, my cross country coach was much more than a coach, he was a mentor using every opportunity he had to give us life lessons within the experience and discipline of long distance running. The same could be said of Jay Hartzler, my choir director, and Harvey Yoder and David Mumaw, my teachers. May EMHS continue to be a refuge, an anchor for faith-forming, vocation-building, and life-transformative experiences for the generations to come!

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