Two prominent philanthropists and social activists who have been serving the people in the society for their upliftment, education and welfare activities were conferred Rotary National Peace Award at the hands of RTN Paul Netzel (Trustee Chair Elect, The Rotary Foundation) on the occasion of International Understanding and Peace Symposium (IUPS) held at Pune, India From 18th – 19th February 2017.
A Reflection on NARPI’s 2016 Summer Peacebuilding Training
If you would create something, you must be something
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (shared by Hong Soek “Scott” Kim – NARPI Facilitator).
Being a peacebuilder goes beyond what position you have in your organization or in the community. It is important for everyone to understand what peacebuilding means and how each of us must be a peacebuilder.
That opportunity came to me in August of 2016 when I participated in the Summer Peacebuilding Training of the Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute (NARPI). Forty-nine participants gathered in Taiwan for the training, most of whom came from Japan and Korea.
Because I am new to peacebuilding, I chose Conflict and Peace Framework for the first week. I learned that there are many faces of peace, conflict and violence. The definition of conflict we came up with during our discussions was “conflict is something that happens anytime someone is trying to protect or defend his/her vested interests.” Conflict will result in violence if you will not deal with it or if you will just let yourself be taken over by your emotions. We just need to reflect and put ourselves in other people’s shoes first before reacting to something.
I was really moved when I presented myself as one of the Comfort Women in an activity where we used Ho’o Pono Pono and Samoan Circle Process to discuss what happened during World War II. It was a powerful experience, with each of us giving our different points of views of what happened before, what could have been done to prevent it, and what we can do in the future so it will not happen again.
This course was really an eye-opener for me. I grew up with no knowledge of peacebuilding work and ignored the things happening around me. Now, I can say that I’m aware of what we are going through but still searching for the right way to achieve peace. The biggest question I still have in my mind now is, Can fighting with your own countrymen achieve lasting peace? I hope while I continue to learn about peacebuilding I can find peace.
What 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.
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|
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.
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.
My 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.