“I lost my father 9 years ago. And when I chose cycling and music to empower young girls, I didn’t know it’ll make me a nominee for Nobel Peace Prize 2016”. –Zhala Sarmast, 17yrs old, Afghanistan
“I had to leave my home, family and country to save my life from violence in communal riots. And now I am trying to search a meaning of this life by helping my fellow refugees.” Ali Johar, 21yrs old, Refugee in India from Myanmar
Such amazing 37 young peace-builders from India, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Maldives and Malaysia attended a five-day residential training aiming at empowering young minds from South Asia on themes of Youth, Peace and Conflict Management & Transformation. The International Training of Trainers (ToT) on Youth and Peace-building was hosted from 18-22nd October 2016 by Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development (RGNIYD) Regional Centre, Chandigarh in collaboration with Youth for Peace International (YFPI) and Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassadors Network (CYPAN).
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has adopted the Resolution 2250 in December 2015. This brought to light the importance of engaging the youth in problems of conflicts and security and also to empower them in all possible ways in the peace-building processes. With this as the founding stone, the YFPI and CYPAN are motivated to train young persons and interest them in community welfare activities and peaceful coexistence.
The training program was full of experience sharing, learning and analyzing the conflict situations and then acting upon them actually to build a culture of peace across the globe. The training focused on building up a clear body of theory, skills and greater understanding in organizing, planning, facilitating, evaluating and follow-up of conflict transformation and peace-building workshops, so that by the end of the training the participants will have improved competencies in all the critical areas.
Various core values such as inclusion, no competition, safety – physical and emotional, role-modelling, and fun were introduced through “Play for Peace” activities. The message and aim was to make the participants recognize that competition does not at all times give out the best in you but to see people having fun just like one yields greater results. These also aimed at breaking stereotypes and bringing people together to promote relationships in places that suffer from a history of cultural, racial or religious tensions, bullying, discrimination, to inspire community development initiatives that improve the quality of life of those in need.
The facilitators also introduced the theory of challenge by choice, Relationship and Risk graphs, five stages of the relationship, theory of Conflict and Violence, Compatible and Incompatible goals and behaviors, types of conflicts (No, Latent, Surface and Open Conflicts), self-personality analysis (Assertive, Altruistic and Analytic) and Conflict Management styles (Directing, Compromising, Avoiding, Co-operating and Harmonizing).
The participants also facilitates sessions in pairs on their chosen theme, implementing various learning from the sessions. It helped them to practice in a safe environment and get proper feedback for improvisation. Reflection sessions, active listening sessions and safe zone (home group) discussion sessions enabled the participants with an environment to share “their” stories. The session held great emotional value as many participants were in tears while sharing their stories. The days usually ended on a lighter note with all delegates singing and dancing to popular folk songs from different countries, facilitating close bonding between participants.
The ToT aimed both at training the young people to create a tolerant and peaceful environment in their communities and also of forming larger youth networks in their communities and countries so that efforts can be made more efficient and stakeholders engaged in involving young people in peace processes consider youth not just as beneficiaries but also as partners. Some participants will become parts of their country CYPAN teams and start taking part into activities to sustainable engage greater masses of young people into their work to achieve, promote and preserve peace in societies and communities. After training, these Global Peace Ambassadors will also be supported to steer the launch and implementation of UNSC Resolution 2250 in their countries over the course of time.
About the contributor: A youth worker, design engineer, peace builder, correspondent, photographer, climate activist- there are many phrases Mridul Upadhyay, 25 years old from New Delhi (India), enjoys trying on him to describe what he sees himself as. Keeping youth and peaceful social development in focus, he has co-founded Youth for Peace International (YFPI) and also has been supporting Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassadors Network (CYCN) as India Coordinator.