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Alumni News

News from and about MPI Alumni

Davao Alumni Reunion

Davao Alumni Reunion

Daghang salamat (Thank you so much) to the MPI alumni from different parts of Davao Region who joined our alumni reunion on 28 April 2022, Thursday. It was an intimate yet energizing experience to be with our fellow peacebuilders in person for the first time since the pandemic started. Aside from the sharing of personal and professional updates, the participants discussed ways to strengthen the peacebuilding network in the Davao Region and how MPI can further support its alumni and other peacebuilders.

We are looking forward to having more in-person "kumustahan" with our alumni in the future.

Sustaining peace through sports

Sustaining peace through sports

On March 21, 2001, the Government of the Philippines declared an all-out war against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as the MILF was considered an enemy of the state. For years, the security sectors, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP), were engaged in armed conflict with the MILF, displacing and traumatizing many communities and individuals. This resulted in slow-paced development and escalated violence, biases, and prejudice in the affected areas, especially in the province of Lanao del Norte in the northern part of the island of Mindanao.

But today, after all the efforts made to sustain the gains for peace in Lanao del Norte for several years, we are beginning to realize our dream of having a wave of lasting peace in our province and for the Island of Mindanao. This involved observing dialogues and peace process mechanisms and the exchange of messages of peace and solidarity by different stakeholders and peace actors.

Peacebuilding in the Digital Age

Peacebuilding in the Digital Age

As the pandemic forced us into social distancing, and at times, even social isolation, many of us turned to the online world for our work, our day-to-day communication, and as a way to stay connected. We have done this through various platforms, including email, text messaging, online conferencing programs, and perhaps more than any other, social media. In doing so, we confronted the reality that has existed long before the pandemic that social media is both a blessing and a curse. It is a platform that has allowed us to stay connected to friends and families, sharing with them stories, photos, and videos so that we can maintain the shared memories that would otherwise be lost. At the same time, it has accelerated conflict and amplified divisions, particularly due to the inability of these platforms to prevent misinformation or intentional disinformation.

In this issue of our newsletter, we are sharing with you the experiences of three alumni with social media and the common thread of hate speech being woven through their stories. Kisuke Ndiku writes of the ongoing conflicts in Africa and how social media has both exacerbated these conflicts as well as provided a space for those who wish to help mitigate the conflicts, especially the African Diaspora. Chris Alu from the Solomon Islands shares how social media is disrupting the local culture and has played a mostly negative role in the recent crisis there. Finally, we read about social media being a place for peacebuilders to advocate for their work, the rights of women, and media, but even that online space is shrinking.

MPI recognizes this online sphere as one with which we must be concerned as much as we have been with the conflicts that occur in the communities, countries, and regions in which we live and work. As the Noble Prize-winning Philippine journalist Maria Ressa said in her acceptance speech, “What happens on social media doesn’t stay on social media. Online violence is real-world violence.” To begin to address these concerns, MPI organized an online pilot workshop on digital security for peacebuilders with the Digital Defenders Partnership (DDP) where 26 alumni learned about the basics of secure online communication. MPI will be working with DDP to develop more workshops for peacebuilders interacting in the digital space. MPI is also looking at developing a course on “digital peacebuilding” that will allow participants to explore how online tools and platforms are worsening conflicts and how they can be used to build peace.

In the meantime, MPI will also be looking at its own presence on social media. We plan to reach out to our alumni to seek your opinion. Please feel free to comment here or contact us with your thoughts and ideas. We look forward to hearing more from you in 2022!

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MPI Alumnus Receives General Education Teaching Award

MPI Alumnus Receives General Education Teaching Award

We are delighted to share that MPI alumnus Dr. Martin Chung is the recipient of the 2021/22 General Education (GE) Teaching Award (Individual). The General Education Teaching Award from Hong Kong Baptist University "aims to recognize individual academic/teaching colleagues’ outstanding performance and devotion in the teaching of GE courses."

Martin wrote that he received the award for his undergraduate course, "Sustainable Peace: Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation of Divided Communities." He conceived of this course during his time at MPI's 2017 Annual Peacebuilding Training.

See the Hong Kong Baptist University website for details.

Image from Hong Kong Baptist University Facebook page.

Social Media Within Our Society

Social Media Within Our Society

As a peacebuilder, what I am sharing here are my own views only and is the way I see social media in our context. Some of this reflects discussions from among my peers and others who have the same passion as a peacebuilder.

In the Solomon Islands, social media has played a role that can help advocate for our peacebuilding work, but it also has a destabilizing effect. People no longer trust social media because it has been used to disseminate unverified second-hand information, including to those for whom we are trying to advocate our cause about which we are so passionate.

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