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.
MPI 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.
In roughly four hours during this first Indian MPI alumni meet, grassroots peace practitioners and those coming from the academe had decided that this should not be the one and only MPI alumni meeting in India. They decided to call themselves Friends of MPI, India. Those who came together are determined to organize similar meetings in other regions of India. As a way forward, they have committed themselves to write up short case studies/stories about their peacebuilding experiences and share it with others.
Another plan is to develop a directory with information on the respective skills, expertise and interest of MPI alumni so that they can share these skills and other resources (books, etc.) with one another. These highly committed and enthusiastic Friends of MPI, India are now part of a growing critical mass of peacebuilders, intertwined and connected, strong and enduring, determined to overcome adversities and build peace! MPI is convinced that they’ll keep their spirit, that they’ll pass it on to others and that everyone can look forward to more to come from the Friends of MPI, India.
Through its networking efforts, MPI tries to connect MPI alumni in different areas with one another and keep them involved with MPI. These connections give them opportunities to share their stories and experiences and their challenges and their successes. Through its research and documentation arm, MPI promotes the formation of learning and exchange groups or clusters of peacebuilders, such as Friends of MPI, India. MPI hopes that these efforts sustain both MPI’s and the alumni’s peacebuilding work and increase their impact.
Hopefully, other MPI alumni who were not present at the reunion will join Friends of MPI, India, and be able to contribute peacebuilding case studies and stories from different parts of the country. For those who did not receive word about this alumni gathering and who are still interested in staying connected with MPI, please contact us.