Inside the Annual Peacebuilding Training
MPI:A Wellspring of Peace
The Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute serves as a wellspring of peace processes and initiatives, and a meeting place of the mind, heart, and spirit for individuals who are willing to be pushed to the edge, be challenged by opportunity, and be immersed in a diverse learning environment. Far more than just a training institute, MPI is a community of peacebuilders made up of people from all walks of life and coming from various corners of the world, each of whom carries a different perspective, belief system, and way of life. They are individuals who practice different religions and who courageously come together in the spirit of trust and solidarity to learn, share, grow and become inspired.
MPI continues to provide those who come into its space with a structured environment for learning new skills and exploring new theories and principles that may sometimes come in conflict with one’s own beliefs. The Institute offers processes that transform these beliefs into new thoughts and ideas for change. MPI is a safe place where one has the chance to listen to and tell his or her stories, a melting pot of ideas and perspectives handled with utmost respect and understanding, a place where beliefs and cultures intermingle and sometimes even clash, but where all are viewed in the light of acceptance and openness.
Participants, now alumni, go home richer; not only with all the things they learned but also by all the friendships gained. They go home ready to grow even further in their role as peacebuilders, peace advocates, or as parents, sisters, brothers, and friends, bringing with them the light that will pave the way towards just and peaceful communities wherever they may be.
Opening and Closing Ceremonies
Diversity—this is one of the words that participants often use to describe their overall MPI experience—an extraordinary opportunity to be in a setting that teems with diversity. This has always been a mainstay of each MPI experience—the openness to acknowledge and accept what is different; and the recognition that, that which makes us unique is something worth celebrating.
At each of the opening ceremonies, MPI is proud to have an Inspirational Speaker who provides added drive and zest to the participants as they embark on an intensive week-long journey of learning.
The closing ceremonies that are conducted every Friday evening of each week formally conclude the week-long training. A key feature of this event is class presentations created by the participants that artistically demonstrate the learning and insights gained by them from their respective courses. Interspersed between these are testimonials offered by selected participants about their experiences at the training.
Each year, MPI undergoes a very intentional and systematic process of deliberation and selection of courses to be offered for the Annual Peacebuilding Training. The content, design, and methodology of the courses are continually updated, revised, or modified to address the needs of participants in terms of knowledge and essential practical skills; while also taking into account the emerging landscape of the different areas of peacebuilding, all in close coordination with the respective facilitators.
In the development of new courses, as well as in reviewing and updating the existing training program, MPI holds fast to the principles of applicability, relevance, necessity and social impact. The Institute keeps informed of and familiarizes itself with the latest theories and concepts on peacebuilding, including the local and regional context, and current issues in Asia-Pacific and the rest of the world. It also values highly the ideas and recommendations put forth by its alumni and training participants that are generated through evaluations and surveys, which in turn are considered in the selection of courses each year.
Open Session Activities
An addition to the regularly scheduled programs of MPI’s Annual Peacebuilding Training are evening presentations where participants organize sessions or lead workshops on issues that interest them and about which they are passionate. This is a less formal avenue created for everyone to gather, learn and share together as a community of peace workers and as an MPI family.
Cultural Night Celebrations
Every Wednesday of each week, MPI arranges for participants to be able to relax and break free from the rigors of the classroom through its Cultural Night Celebrations. Here, participants are exposed to other cultures as their co-participants proudly show off their home country’s poems, songs, folklore, traditional dresses and dances. Through the Cultural Night, MPI aims to cultivate understanding and develop appreciation for the diversity that exists among the participants.
MPI Public Forum
During the training, it is a custom of MPI to organize a public forum. This forum is part of MPI’s Special Events Program that is anchored within the Annual Training. It aims to provide a space where important issues that are not only relevant to Mindanao, but also to the rest of the world, are examined together by the annual training participants and others who are invited to attend the forum.
During the Annual Peacebuilding Training, MPI arranges for participants to be able to see the sights and attractions of Davao City through weekend outings. For two weekends, participants are able to enjoy, relax and visit some of the most popular destinations in the city. These outings have included Eden Nature Park, a mountain resort and ecological sanctuary, and a beach trip where participants enjoy swimming in the crystal clear waters off of Samal Island.
Each year, MPI enlists volunteers as members of the Annual Training Secretariat Team for the Annual Peacebuilding Training. They serve as class assistants, class documenters, social/special events coordinators, photographers and videographers. This is part of the Institute’s overall education and training direction of equipping potential peacebuilders with training and organizational skills and exposing them to diverse nationalities, religions, cultures and perspectives on peacebuilding. This is also an avenue for young professionals, development workers and fresh undergraduates with limited funds to further develop their skills and learn new peacebuilding theories and concepts without having to pay the tuition fee.
As members of the secretariat, volunteers must be ready to work long hours and under pressure, be interested and receptive to work in a multicultural setting, and be responsible, kind co-workers. MPI also sees to it that volunteers recruited as part of the team have a genuine desire to learn and participate in the training as well as contribute to peace initiatives being done in their own communities afterwards.
Before the training starts, MPI organizes orientation and teambuilding sessions. This is done in an effort to foster a spirit of camaraderie and teamwork, build trust and support, and provide a space for members of the secretariat to know one another. The sessions are an opportunity for the team to acquire a working knowledge of their tasks and responsibilities, clarify expectations, and prepare them for the grueling days ahead.
During the training, the volunteers attend daily debriefings convened after the day’s classes. The debriefings allow the team to discuss important issues of the day, challenges encountered and how they can be overcome, and prepare volunteers for the next day’s activities. These meetings are a way for volunteers to de-stress and support one another so they can face another day of the training with renewed energy and commitment.
Assessment and Evaluation
At the end of each week, participants are given an opportunity to provide critical feedback and evaluate the overall Annual Peacebuilding Training as well as the individual courses they attended. The outcomes of the training evaluations provide valuable suggestions about how to better improve future trainings.