Reflection of my time at MPI and how it contributed to setting up the Centre for Peace Studies and Dialogue at Union Christian College, Aluva, India

Jenee Peter (2nd from left) with classmates in the Interreligious Dialogue course at MPI
Jenee Peter (2nd from left) with classmates in the Interreligious Dialogue course at MPI

Who could imagine that a peacebuilding training would mean being by the seaside listening to waves and meeting people from across the globe? This was exactly my experience when I attended the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute Foundation, Inc. 2015 Annual Peacebuilding Training at the Mergrande Ocean Resort, Mindanao, Philippines.

The faculty and participants shared many experiences about their nations, communities, cultures and lives. This time for sharing was the most important learning aspect for me at MPI. As a teacher of archaeology and ancient history in a liberal arts college in India, I wondered, How would I be able to use the skills that I learned from Mindanao?

I had high expectations about MPI. The classrooms were ideal for meditation, cultural evenings, farewell parties, informal discussions, formal lectures and deep reflections. This was totally different from the classrooms in India. As I let myself embrace this novel experience, I realized that the entire program at MPI is learner-centered. That is why MPI leaves a lasting impression on us alumni.

CPSD Inauguration on stage and lighting incenseWhat does one do after completing the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute (MPI) Annual Peacebuilding Training? For Dr. Jenee Peter, it was to be involved in developing a Centre for Peace Studies and Dialogue (CPSD) at the Union Christian College (UCC).

UCC is located in Aluva in the state of Kerala in South India. It was founded in 1921 as an institute of higher education. The college is affiliated with the Mahatma Gandhi University.

Dr. Peter and her colleagues successfully launched the CPSD on March 23, 2017. The Center is the first of its kind in the area housed under an academic institution. Recognizing that peace necessitates a sustained, systematic and collaborative effort, CPSD was established to create awareness among its students and community about current challenges to peace and to explore ways of working with various organizations and institutions to address these challenges.

Dr. Jenee Peter, a professor in the Department of History at UCC, was one of the first scholars supported by the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia (UBCHEA) to attend MPI’s Annual Peacebuilding Training in May 2015. Already, the Center has gotten funding from UBCHEA to start a Peace Studies program. Looking back at her experiences at MPI, Jenee shared, “though I have been learning and teaching about interreligious understanding in Kerala for many years, the courses at MPI broadened my horizons. I realized that the entire program at MPI is learner-centered. That is why MPI leaves a lasting impression on the alumni.Click here to read more of Jenee’s reflection.

Francis Nazia

Please note: This article was originally published on the PaCSIA website.

PaCSIA is thrilled to announce that Francis Nazia, Bougainville peacebuilder and member of Bougainville Indigenous Dialogue, is the recipient of two scholarships which will enable him to attend intensive peacebuilding training at the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute’s Annual Peacebuilding Training in 2017.

The Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute (MPI) is an Asian training institute grounded in the Mindanao, Philippines, context that provides a space for people of diverse backgrounds to gather together, share and learn in a safe environment where all viewpoints are encouraged and respected. MPI is a resource for peacebuilders: providing skills, conducting research and building solidarity within the Asia-Pacific Region. The next Annual Training will be from May 8-26, 2017 in Davao City, Philippines.

I wanted to create an innovative and creative way of teaching peace…

In 2016, I returned to MPI’s Annual Peacebuilding Training for the second time, this time as a KAICIID International Fellow1. During the Fellows Programme, KAICIID gave me the opportunity to develop and implement a small-scale initiative.

Imperial TownMy initiative is Dialogue for Peace Game Application Program. Through this, I developed a game app called DIALOGIC. I made this game because, first, I am concerned there are so many games that promote violence on the net. Gaming habits can change people psychologically (cognitive, affection, behavior).2 Secondly, peace training is typically of interest to adults or those who feel they need the training. Many people think we do not need peace training because we already live in peace and peace training is such a boring subject.

For these reasons, I wanted to create an innovative and creative way of teaching peace so people from any gender, status and age can join in. Through this, people can learn peaceful dialogue in a fun and easy way. Participating in a formal peacetraining program can be expensive. People may not have the time to join such a training as well. In addition, we often do not know whether participants will implement what they learned.

This article was originally posted on the Student Peace Prize website and reposted with permission. Antero da Silva is one of the first alumni of the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute.

Timor-Leste is a country in Southeast Asia, and is one of the youngest countries in the world as it got it’s independence May 20th 2002, after a long and brutal fight against the Indonesian occupation. From the 16th century Timor-Leste was a Portuguese colony, until the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (FRETILIN) declared the territory’s independence in 1975. Only nine days after the independence from Portugal, Timor-Leste was occupied by Indonesia. The Indonesian occupation were characterized by struggle, violence, and conflict between the Indonesian military and independence fighters.

Antero Benedito da Silva

Antero Benedito da Silva

Antero da Silva grew up during this chaotic time, but was always dreaming of an independent and peaceful island. Da Silva founded East Timor Student Solidarity Council (ETSSC) in 1998, as a way for students to participate in the ongoing struggle for independence and democracy. He opened up student offices across the whole island, where people could learn about the benefits for an independent country. The Indonesian military and government did not approve of this, and were fighting against the opposition with all means. This led to deaths of several students, and just being part of a student organization made you a target for the Indonesian military. Antero da Silva, as the founder of ETSSC, were seen as one of the most important activists during the struggle for independence and democracy in Timor-Leste. And in 1999 he and ETSSC were awarded the Student Peace Prize for their non-violent against the Indonesian occupation. Da Silva’s work proved to be effective as the country became independent only a few years after he received the Student Peace Prize.

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