UNOY Peacebuilders

As a Global Affairs major, I was really interested in finding a blog topic that had a global approach and perspective to peace education. Through searching on the web, I found this amazing organization called UNOY (The United Network of Young Peacebuilders). UNOY (prounounced  ‘you know why’) is a global network of young people and youth organisations committed to establishing peaceful societies.  They have been around since 1989 and are based in the Netherlands. they consist of 49 member organizations in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America.

UNOY’s mission is ” to link up young people’s initiatives for peace in a global network of young peacebuilders, to help empower their capacities and to help increase the effectiveness of their actions” They achieve this goal by implementing a wide range of activities in each of their main areas: advocacy and campaigning, capacity building and gender. UNOY believes that young people are an essential part of peacebuilding because:

  • Young people are more open to change
  • Young people are future-oriented
  • Young people are idealistic and innovative
  • Young people are courageous
  • Young people are knowledgeable about their peers’ realities (http://www.unoy.org/unoy/who-we-are/our-vision/)

Some projects that UNOY has implemented in 2012 include, the Educating for Peace seminar that brings together members from all over the world, the Peace of Mind educational program for students, and training courses on peace building. Members even traveled to Colombia, Argentina, and Nepal where they were able to teach workshops on issues such as human rights, democracy and gender to youth there!

This organization caters to a wide range of peace educators and students alike. UNOY has created excellent resources that can be incorporated into a classroom or community setting for youth. The beauty of UNOY is that the wide array of projects it creates can be applied in a global AND local context. Most importantly, UNOY gives  young people the opportunity to get involved!!! I would especially recommend checking out their volunteer programs if you’re interested in working on an international level 😉 Through its broad scope of activities and projects, UNOY teaches youth the necessary skills and tools needed to become peacemakers in their own communities.

A clip describing one of UNOY’s projects in collaboration with other international youth organizations:

Resources:

UNOY home page http://www.unoy.org/unoy/

 

 

Inside Out: a global participatory art project


“I wish for you to stand up for what you care about by participating in a global art project, and together we’ll turn the world…INSIDE OUT.” – JR

Connecting with people across lines of difference is a fundamental goal in conflict resolution and this process has, in some ways, become more accessible due to the presence of the internet and social media tools. Through a course I am taking focusing on Art as a means of social change, I came across a project called the Inside Out Project started by a Parisian street artists known as JR. Winner of the TED Prize in 2011 (awarded annually to an exceptional individual who receives $100,000 and, much more important, “One Wish to Change the World”), this project tackles causes like peace, diversity, sustainability, and justice through photography as well are large scale displays of these works. According to the inside out project website http://www.insideoutproject.net:

INSIDE OUT is a large-scale participatory art project that transforms messages of personal identity into pieces of artistic work. Everyone is challenged to use black and white photographic portraits to discover, reveal and share the untold stories and images of people around the world. These digitally uploaded images will be made into posters and sent back to the project’s co-creators for them to exhibit in their own communities. People can participate as an individual or in a group; posters can be placed anywhere, from a solitary image in an office window to a wall of portraits on an abandoned building or a full stadium. These exhibitions will be documented, archived and viewable virtually.

This resource presents a unique opportunity to actively engage students in a global movement aimed at highlighting identity and diversity.  The project can either used a stimulated visual example in the classroom that would display the ways in which people around the world are getting involeved in social justice and human rights issues creativily, or you could chose to collaborate!  For example, this nonprofit group in Belo Horizonte, Brazil (Olhar Coletivo, an organization that seeks to empower impoverished youth between the ages of 13 and 15 through the art of photography) participated in the project.

Inside out project is an ambitious experiment in civic engagement through art and would serve to facilitate dialogue about social issues like freedom and diversity as well as actively engage student in a global initiative to respond creatively and nonviolently to response to the political, social, and religious conflicts that are prolific in our contemporary landscape.

How about a day for peace?

Actor turned filmmaker Jeremy Gilley founded Peace One Day after realizing that there was no starting point for peace, no day of global unity, no day for intercultural cooperation, and no day for when humanity came together. Gilley felt that if we united as one then that might be the key to humanity’s survival. He started his advocacy for his Peace Day by writing letters to every state leader, their ambassadors, Nobel peace laureates, NGOs, faith based organizations, and other various organizations. Then in 1999 his dream of Peace One Day came true. In 1999 all the member states of the United Nations adopted the 21st of September as Peace Day. This day is recognized as an annual global ceasefire and non-violence day.

Jeremy Gilley’s Peace One Day is recognized every year, but unfortunately the day hasn’t gotten the full attention it deserves. Gilley was to make a statement with Kofi Annan on September 11, 2001 to advocate for his event, but because of the attack on the World Trade Center the statement never happened. However, the events on September 11, 2001 made Gilley work even harder. He was even more empowered and inspired to move forward with Peace One Day. This led to Gilley, along with actor Jude Law, to start work for peace in Afghanistan. Because of the pair advocating for Peace Day the Taliban sent him letter and said they would observe the day, and not engage in violence. The Taliban doing this led to 1.6 million people vaccinated for polio and violence on that day was down by 70%.

Due to this success Gilley has initiated a new plan for 2012, a Global Truce Day. This day will show younger generations that we can make a stop to violence with small acts of non-violence in our everyday lives. Gilley wants to utilize all kinds of resources from dance to social media and globally network with government, intergovernmental, and education leaders.

Gilley’s idea of utilizing education into his plan for 2012’s Global Truce Day helped persuade me to write this blog post about his event. Gilley wants to get young people to be the driving force to inspire individual action, so he has complied an educational resource for teachers to implement non-violence and other peace concepts into the classroom.

I can see this educational resource implemented in almost every formal grade level classroom. The students would need a little background on what conflict is, so because of this, starting at the fourth or fifth grade level would probably be best. However, this could fluctuate determined on how the students are influenced by conflict in their everyday lives. By implementing these resources in a classroom setting these children can practice non-violence in their schools, and also bring what they learn outside of the school setting and teach others.

Ways to use this resource:
Gilley includes many different types of lessons in his educational resource. This comprehensive resource includes 21 one-hour lesson plans for exploring issues of peace, nonviolence, and the protection of the environment, with extended projects for Peace Day on September 21st. I think this resource would be best integrated by first starting with showing Gilley’s documentary for one day of class, doing the lesson that corresponds to that, then moving on to the individual lessons maybe once a month until the actual Peace Day on the 21st. The students could help plan how they want their school to recognize and celebrate the event. In addition to using Gilley’s lesson plans I think it would be important for each teacher to incorporate their own discussion in their classrooms on non-violence, and other peace education areas. This would help each individual classroom relate to what types of conflict are going on in their societies.

The goal of each lesson, whether it be with Gilley’s lesson plans or the teacher’s, would be to spread knowledge about ways to bring about peace in small ways. These can be from their knowledge on non-violence to their knowledge of eco-resolution. Each lesson will more than likely encourage a student to go out and spread what they learned to another, and therefore spread the movement of peace.

“We should oppose violence in all situations and of course there’s no better way of bringing that about than through the power of education.”-Jeremy Gilley

Resources:
Peace One Day website: http://peaceoneday.org/
Peace One Day’s educational resources: http://peaceoneday.org/teachers/

The Dhanak Film Club

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I first came across this film club through a friend in my Globalization and Culture (CULT 320) class last year who was specializing in South Asian relations.  The Dhanak Film Club is sponsored by the Institute for Peace and Secular Studies in Pakistan.  The Institute is a community supported voluntary effort for the attainment of a peaceful society through non-violent means.  The Dhanak Film Club is one manifestation of this effort.  According to it’s promotional poster, it’s a “film club which goes beyond the black and white categorization of our usual cinematic experience.  Dhanak represents a rainbow of ideas, theme and issues thus providing a unique experience every week” (http://peaceandsecularstudies.org/?p=333).  One university student, Umer Latif, said “the basic idea behind Dhanak is to raise social and political awareness among the masses as well as underline the importance of common human heritage transcending the bounds of caste, creed and nation” (http://myclassiccollection.wordpress.com/2011/01/18/cinema-for-peace-building/).  The club, hoping to promote empathy and peace through the movies, briefly introduces each movie and follows it with a 15 minute discussion (http://peaceandsecularstudies.org/?p=333).

This concept of promoting alternative discourse through popular movies is definitely transposable to all cultures.  I believe film clubs would not only be applicable to U.S. educational settings, but would also be very popular among students.  Who wouldn’t want to watch a movie?  There is also a natural desire to discuss the movie with friends afterwards.  I think the key is the way in which that discussion takes place.  This peace-building activity would be very useful in the high school setting where teachers often eliminate most forms of creative learning from the curriculum in an effort to increase the efficiency of lecture-style teaching.  Using popular films in the classroom to engage students in thinking about the nature of societal issues would encourage many students-at-risk in conflicted urban neighborhoods to continue coming to school instead of dropping out.

Logistically-speaking, the teacher could spend one-third of class lecturing on the historic context and educational knowledge needed to understand the film; one-third on watching the film; and the final third of class on discussing the implications of the themes in the film.  Considering it is impossible to watch the whole movie in class, the scenes selected could be used to promote a full-length screening of the film after-school in a film club meeting.  With the use of a TV, a DVD player and access to a public library’s DVD collection, the teacher could easily incorporate this concept into the classroom.

The key is using the film for educational purposes rather than simply making it a free day with no work.  It’s important to use this resource as a pedagogical means to encourage critical thinking on the values promoted through film.  The teacher should make equal time in passively watching the film and actively discussing how the film could be viewed through a peace-building lens rather than a violent one (as is often the case).  The teacher may also choose a film that specifically highlights problems also present in the students’ environment to not only give students alternative endings, but to make students question why these problems are present in their community.  The application of film can be used to promote first empathy and then, community building.  The goal of using this film concept is promoting human rights education in the classroom by teaching students the skills (critical thinking and public speaking) to fight for democratic justice in their own community.  I think both high school teachers and film students/human activists could benefit from starting film clubs in their schools/communities.

Resources:

http://peaceandsecularstudies.org/?p=333 – The Dhanak Film Club website

http://myclassiccollection.wordpress.com/2011/01/18/cinema-for-peace-building/ – An article from the January 2011 edition of “Trail Blazer” (An Indian youth magazine) describing the power of film screening as a peace pedagogy

World Peace… and other 4th grade achievements

As an adult, I’ve been involved with an inter-agency simulation, here in the Washington, DC area sponsored by the United States Institute for Peace called Strategic Economic Needs and Security Exercise (SENSE). SENSE has been used in peace talks across the world and is a great resource and training tool for governmental leaders and public servants who wish to understand the complexities of war and building sustainable peace in a conflict, or post-conflict country.

This all sounds very boring (yawn), right? To be honest, it’s the most fun I’ve ever had in my (adult) life. Over a three day period, these often well-known and extremely intelligent adults are brought back to their basics: scheming, negotiating, collaborating and finding creative solutions to current world issues. We’ve done simulations for inter-agency adults who are ruthless, to Conflict Analysis and Peace Operation students who are actually too collaborative and sometimes unrealistic; but I’ve always wondered, how would children react?

Little did I know, an educator named John Hunter has been playing this simulation with his 4th grade classes for more than 25 years and loving every surprising and challenging moment along the way. Here he is speaking about his experiences on Ted Talks in 2011:

What I find most amazing about the idea of holding ‘World Peace Games’ for classrooms of children is that they have the opportunity to face struggles, frustrations, and conflict with peers head on while finding creative solutions through negotiation, collaboration, effective communication, and most importantly- without violence. These are traits I wish I had learned at any level before college, which is sadly when and where I’ve learned most of them. Additionally, it gives children the idea that they are intelligent, realistic, and smart individuals who can find the solution to relevant and world-wide issues; and hopefully, the confidence to solve any other problems that evolve in their day-to-day life. Plus, it’s fun!

This is probably why John Hunter was named in Time Magazine as one of the 12 Education Activists of 2012, and was also featured in a documentary based around his experiences with 4th graders and the World Peace Games; which you can see the trailer.

Personally, I think this model is highly applicable at any level of school. John Hunter’s website World Peace Game features details on what the game is and how to play it although unfortunately, it appears as though they don’t give exact instructions; only the ability to contact John Hunter and have him teach your class the game. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t implement your own similar simulation with the same basic formula: 5 countries, specific resources, a driving issue, and a board in which they can actively witness the consequences or benefits of their actions…

For teachers, administrators, and school systems who are unsure, can watch the movie and judge for themselves; or better yet, show it to their students and gauge their interest in playing the game themselves…

From Hostility to Hospitality

William Ury’s TED talk from October 2010 is an excellent tool for introducing new learners to the field of conflict transformation. The simplicity of Ury’s language, his use of stories and visuals, and the brevity of the lecture make this video appropriate for a broad audience, and it would be best suited for students in high school or older, in both formal and informal settings. The lecture is a wonderful way to introduce the field of conflict/peace studies to students because it incorporates key concepts such as creativity, interrelatedness, perspective, narrative, and humanization through specific examples that make these ideas easy to understand for novices.

Ury’s lecture would be a good way to begin a course or training session (such as training students and/or adults in mediation or facilitation), and should be followed with small-group discussion in order to draw out and reinforce themes. As the screening and discussion could be conducted in as little as 35 minutes, this program could serve as an “icebreaker,” allowing participants to get to know one another informally (through discussion) but also setting the scene by introducing key concepts, and inspiring the group with both emotional and rational appeals.

This program incorporates aspects of multiculturalism, conflict resolution, international relations, and even human rights. Its implementation would ideally develop a basic understanding of important themes in conflict transformation, as well as a positive attitude and optimism toward the creation of peace. Ury’s talk also inspires creativity, analysis, and reflection.

(By Emily Ludwin Miller, emillerk@gmu.edu)

Yoga for Peace in Afghanistan

Yoga in schools has been one topic covered here on PeaceLearner, but another area where Yoga and meditation are being used as approaches to peace and nonviolence is actually in Afghanistan, through the Amanuddin Foundation. Started by French human rights activist Amandine Roche, Amanuddin facilitates yoga programs for Afghan people. The program there is called Sola Yoga – “a peace initiative based on the ancient/ancestral science of Yoga and meditation,” where “participants will develop the tools they need to control their feelings and temper negative emotions such as frustration, anger, hatred, and revenge.” Sola Yoga focuses on teaching breathing exercises, concentration exercises, and non-violent practices.

Roche told Reuters: “It’s a new solution to an old problem. War starts in the minds of men, so peace starts in the minds of men. You cannot bring peace with the means of war, it’s as simple of [sic] that.” Roche believes that peace cannot be imposed from the outside, but must come from the inside of an individual.

Roche is also focused on bringing yoga to Afghans because she believes it will help them begin rebuilding their society after the devastations of war. While some might call Roche, who was detained by the Taliban in 2001, crazy for working with these gunmen, she says: “My vision is to teach meditation to all the insurgents, to organize vocational training for them to become mediation teachers, so … they can go back to society, they have a job, they can reintegrate, and they will become peaceful” (Reuters). Roche has worked with the Dalai Lama and members of the Gandhi family to learn about non-violence and meditation. She also worked for the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping and helped to organize the first Afghani presidential election.

The Amanuddin Foundation is just getting started and will surely be growing in months to come. The foundation has gotten a lot of press in recent days – to read more, see these articles:

Can yoga and meditation help bring peace to Afghans? – Reuters

Sola Yoga: Can Meditation Bring Peace to Afghanistan – Huffington Post

For This Yogi, Afghan Peace Plan Needs More Downward Dog – Wall Street Journal

Reading about the Amanuddin Foundation can be a meaningful way for learners to realize the power of nonviolence and have an example of just how effective and helpful the practices of Yoga and meditation can be. By seeing how Roche and her colleagues are affecting peace in Afghanistan, we can explore different approaches to peace and possibly adapt them to use in our own contexts. Amanuddin’s work is also a moving example of the nonviolent transformation of conflict – especially Roche’s goals of arming insurgents with vocational skills to help them rebuild their lives in Afghanistan.