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Alumni News

News from and about MPI Alumni

Safe spaces, outsider perspectives, and communities of peace

Safe spaces, outsider perspectives, and communities of peace

An MPI round table conversation between promising peacebuilders

Written by: Patrick van Wersch

With the AC humming, the freshly brewed coffee at serving temperature, and the round table covered with turquoise cloth positioned at the center of the big rectangular meeting room, the stage is set for a Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute (MPI) first. Four peacebuilders, all MPI Annual Peacebuilding Training first-timers, join MPI’s Marlies Roth and Patrick van Wersch for a conversation about why they made the trip to Davao in the southern Philippines, why they do the work they do, and how they benefit from engaging with other peacebuilders from around the globe.

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Enlightening Inner Peace Through Peace Education

Enlightening Inner Peace Through Peace Education

Le Ngoc Bich Ly (second from the right in photo), originally from Vietnam, is a faculty member at Payap University’s Institute for Religion, Culture and Peace (ICP). Through various programs, the institute aims to raise awareness around global issues and promotes tolerance across faiths. Le is involved in developing programs as well as serving as a lecturer.

As a peace educator, she is responsible for offering courses such as Religion and Peacebuilding and Gender and Ethnic Identity in Peacebuilding. Even though not all of her students have a peacebuilding background, she enjoys helping them discover what it means to be a peacebuilder. She believes that peacebuilding is for everyone.

Le believes that inner peace is the core of peacebuilding. Inner peace, which means one is able to have peace within her/himself, allows one to have a peaceful relationship with others. At the same time, the theories of peace from the academician will be in vain if there is no action for peace.
Affirming her calling as a peace educator is a process. Part of the challenge is to be able to validate information based on academic research. As difficult as this can be, Le never regrets having chosen this path as she sees it as part of God’s plan for her life.

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Sri Lanka has to Endure it and Rise Again

Sri Lanka has to Endure it and Rise Again

The following reflection comes from J.M. Jospeh Jeyaseelan, CMF, an alumnus of MPI's 2018 Annual Peacebuilding Training. Fr. Joseph is a member of the Claretian Missionaries and author of the book Reconciliation and Peacebuilding in Post-war Sri Lanka: through the Healing of Memories and the Role of the Catholic Church. This reflection is part of Fr. Joseph's "Occasional Thoughts" series.

Sri Lanka is experiencing one of its darkest times in history. I am receiving email after email from concerned friends from around the world with inquiries about the situation in Sri Lanka. As I prepare this short write-up, I hear about an incident of a bomb explosion in Colombo (22 April at 4:30 PM). I have received also an alert on my mobile phone about a suspicious vehicle being checked in the outskirts of Colombo (5 PM). The government has decided to declare tomorrow (23 April) as a national day of mourning. Some form of emergency laws is going to come into effect from midnight today. The police curfew that was lifted early this morning is going to be re-imposed. More and more suspicious peoples, articles, and vehicles are being checked or apprehended. And fear and uncertainty is enveloping the entire nation.

The government looks helpless as it is struggling to comprehend the motivation and the culprits behind the mayhem that has rocked the country since the Easter morning. However, people are confused with the announcement by the country's Prime Minister that there was some early warning which had not been sufficiently attended to. And, this is damn serious given the scenario that has unfolded in the country in less than 48 hours. One government Minister, a presidential aspirant, was seen making promises to rebuild to their former glory all the churches that have been damaged. He seems not to have comprehended the fact that the lost lives cannot be recovered and that it is that loss the country is mourning now and not the desecration of walls and sacred objects.

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Inner Healing as a Way to Inner Peace

Inner Healing as a Way to Inner Peace

Siswanto is well known as a psychology clinician as well as an academician of the Catholic University of Soegijapranata, Semarang, Indonesia. He has published three books about psychology, the most recent launched in 2015 entitled “Psikologi Kesehatan Mental: Awas Kesurupan” or “Mental Health of Psychology: Beware of the Possessed.” This book is popular among psychology faculty and students. The term “possessed” raises people’s curiosity and gets them to read the book.

For an Indonesian, when someone is possessed, people believe an outside spirit enters the human body and manifests itself as a different personality. Siswanto determined that “possession” is caused by a deep trauma from the past and surfaces through the human imagination.

Psychology does not recognize being possessed, but it does use the term transference, where a thought/feeling about people with whom one has had a relationship is projected on to someone else. There are several factors that could result in someone thinking they are possessed. It could be violence, disaster, war, or some other traumatic experience.

In Indonesia, the people trusted to deal with the possessed patient are mostly religious leaders with their prayers or the shaman through their rituals. Yet, Siswanto explained, the patient could be healed through psychological methods. He has conducted many seminars about this in some cities in Indonesia such as Aceh, Madura, and Makassar. He added that there is much research about possessed people, especially in Western countries, but the practice to heal the patient through psychology is rare. Siswanto is a pioneer in developing this practice in Indonesia. After many experiences in dealing with possessed patients, Siswanto decided to continue his research and to get a Ph.D. degree in Psychology at Gadjah Mada University, one of the best universities in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.  

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Friends of MPI, India: A Growing Network of Peacebuilders

Friends of MPI, India: A Growing Network of Peacebuilders

On Tuesday, 29 January 2019, 15 MPI alumni gathered at Stella Maris College in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. This reunion in India was the third time that MPI alumni came together to mutually support one another, and for them to share what they have been doing since being involved with MPI and to hear about new developments at MPI. This was the first MPI alumni reunion in India.

Welcoming participants to the gatheringMPI took advantage of the opportunity that was presented because of the International Conference on Peace Building and Conflict Transformation: Moving from Violence to Sustainable Peace, that was organized by Stella Maris College (Autonomous) in Chennai from 30-31 January 2019. MPI was invited to attend this conference and thus thought it worthwhile to organize this alumni gathering.

The participants present at the meeting had joined the MPI Annual Peacebuilding Training between 2002 and 2018. Some already knew each other, being from the same year, and were so happy to reconnect. Some were meeting with other MPI alumni for the first time and were grateful for this connection.

The sharing of stories and experiences regenerated a feeling of oneness, a feeling of belonging to the bigger MPI peacebuilding family, a feeling that many had longed for when they first decided to join the gathering. It was such a powerful reunion. Everyone was highly motivated and committed to come up with concrete plans on how to reinforce peacebuilding work in India.

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