This week’s trainer spotlight brings you Andra Tănase, senior trainer at PATRIR with a wide international experience. We are happy to have Andra join us as one of the main trainers at Global Youth Rising 2016.
Dear Andra, tell us a bit about yourself. What is your background?
I am a last pioneer. Yes, my background is being born early enough to still experience the Romanian communist regime and late enough not to be damaged by it, on the contrary to be able to use this experience as a reflection point and comparison to everything else that followed: my living the “TV Revolution” from my grandparents’ home, my exploring the first school clubs on human rights and then leaving when I was 16 on a scholarship to a UWC (United World College. That moment meant my leap into the ‘world huggers’ (not only tree huggers) world …a community of active citizens, humanists, peace workers, non-formal and non-conformist realistic dreamers which I have become addicted ever since and which I consider the normality of our days and our future. So at 16 I travelled to Duino, Italy to attend a school and community of 200+ students, teachers and staff coming from more than 80 countries and found myself immersed in great practical academic subjects, meaningful community service, passionate art activities and daring sports. That for me was peacebuilding in the truest sense of the world, and peace education in the truest sense of the world. Later on I went to Macalester and UN mandated University for Peace ( UPEACE ) and it was at UPEACE in Costa Rica that I found out about PATRIR.
How did you start working with PATRIR? When, why, how did it evolve and what motivated you to stay?
So, as a soon-to-be graduate I was intrigued by finding out in my home country out of all places a Peace Institute, with close links to some of the most referential figures in peacebuilding an organization which became home very soon in 2005. And home in a very true sense of the world, as I came back and lived for a month or so in the livingroom of the two founders of the organization J So, yes, this very open, generous, encouraging, inspiring, and family-like environment motivated my stay with PATRIR for more than 10 years now, time in which I have worked as IPDTC training center coordinator, trainer, project manager, educator, volunteer, director of IPDTC, director of Youth Peacebuilding Center, director of PATRIR and now Council of Directors member, trainer and researcher. I leave aside the unofficial functions and skills to be discovered at the GYR! 🙂
Did you ever have something extraordinary happen during your trainings? A favourite moment, something that you will always remember? What did you learn from it?
I will keep it short: the most extraordinary thing that happens in almost all the training programmes is the human connection, the joint discovery of being on the same path that builds with passion and professionalism a reality that should represent the normality of every individual on the face of the planet, yet it is sooo distant yet from the cultural, structural and direct fiber of our society. When that connection happens, when a tool (be it a Designing Peacebuilding Programmes path, the Conflict and Violence Triangle, the Living Library exploration or the Fist Exercise) emerges participants in an a-ha moment and then into working together with dedication to planning better peacebuilding that is extraordinary. And even though some programmes are less spectacular than others the existence of that spark in at least one person, made me learn that it is WORTH IT! Not to mention the tears and giggles that go through my heart and mind when I see those tools (re)applied and reflected in all corners of the world.
What are you currently working on? What is the best part of this job?
Right now my focus is on youth and peacebuilding and mainly in two directions: 1) Advocacy and Networks: exploring ways in which Resolution 2250 can become a practical tool for young people working in peacebuilding, and thus am looking at civil society networks in peacebuilding, their role, their capacities, their impact, their evaluation . and 2) Peace Education: from capacity frameworks to capacity building frameworks, from understanding violence in schools to innovative methodologies to address it. It is actually a challenge to focus in the field of peacebuilding and perhaps that is the worst and best part of this job: always needing to be also some type of generalists, because just like in medicine in peacebuilding there is an inherent interconnection between causes of conflict, conflict handling mechanisms, levels of engagement with different actors and many more. It is about the Systemic approach one needs to be able to hold, while also being able to know and hold expertise in a specific area.
Do you think it is important for young people to be involved in promoting peace and non-violence? Why? And how do you see this happening in concrete terms?
This I hope it is a rhetorical question. I think young people ARE already involved in promoting peace and non-violence. Yes, not all young people, but actually many are involved in peacebuilding with the same lack of intentionality in which they are involved in conflicts. But, focusing on the ones involved in peace and non-violence, CONCRETELY I do see many of my school mates working in the field, I do see many of the peacebuilders I have a chance to interact with responsive to calls and getting more and more professional through trainings, exchanges, academic programmes and junior professional tracks that lead them into key positions where I am convinced they will have a different type of leadership. I do see an amazing Youth Envoy. I do see a promising Canadian Government. I do see a stronger and stronger UNOY. I do see in Romania networks and organisations taking on the mission of peace . I do see mothers and fathers more involved in their children’s lives and education and a rise in alternative education methods. I do see social media as an amazing channel for peace if we learn to properly work with it. I would say this is all related to youth and quite concrete, don’t you reckon? It is a MOMENTUM it also needs CRITICAL MASS because without insisting on the worrying trends of extremism, we should acknowledge them and be concerned if the peace movement does not gather sufficient critical mass.
What are you planning to deliver this year at the Global Youth Rising?
The theme is peace education, but the agenda is still open. I do plan to talk about the capacity framework needed for young peacebuilders and also how such a capacity framework can be concretised in our formal, informal and non-formal education spaces. So about possibilities and realities for peace education in schools, for establishing a training framework for young people engaged in peacebuilding at different levels, or even establishing a formal Youth Civil Peace Service, possibilities and realities for peace education in the family….the agenda is still open and I am looking forward to tailor the content to the needs and interests of the participants, so looking forward to an interaction with them before the GYR!
A message for the young people out there who are considering joining us…
10 years ago, a similar, yet smaller event happened. It was called Youth for Positive Change. 10 years from then, many of the participants from then, will re-unite in Romania, they bring now many more stories, many more experience and their journey of turning their passion and desire to work in peacebuilding into reality. Many will be 2016 GYR’s trainers. I believe that this can also be your experience this time, and wish to meet you in a few weeks, and then in a few years as colleagues, friends and professionals with huge hearts, capable peace hands and a sharp and amazing peace-intelligent mind.
Thank you, Andra, and looking forward to having you at the Forum!