Guest Post: Arpine Nikolyan’s GYR Experience

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

I am Arpine from Armenia. I was inspired to learn about the world at age 14 when my family hosted a Peace Corps Volunteer. I first worked as a student, helping to organize community events, and when the organization ‘’Women for Development’’ became involved in my community, I started to collaborate with WFD. I have been involved with WFD as a volunteer for 5 years… the volunteering creates an empathy that creates conditions for Peace. WFD’s current projects mainly focus on the following main issues: rural community development, women’s rights, and peace education in schools of Armenia. Through non-formal education WFD aim to raise community’s capacities, independence and entrepreneurship of young women in particular.

Through my volunteer work in WFD I was able to create peaceful environment by opening my eyes to the need for peace education. This influenced me to work in the field of “Peacebuilding’’ in which I have taken part of GYR 2016.

After the completion of my university studies, I served with the European Volunteer Service in Bucharest and I would like to share my story of attending Global Youth Rising, which also happened in Romania.

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The most memorable 14 days of my European trip during this second stay in Bucharest and Sibiu, I found myself to be the happiest I have been in quite a few days. Immediately upon my arrival to Bucharest the entire city seemed absolutely perfect. The people, the waterless fountains, the florists on the sidewalks, the insanity of the taxi drivers, the simple bakeries and cafes, the fresh juice stands in the parks, the communist-era buildings, the construction sites, the crowded metro… the all put a smile on my face like no other.

On the first day I decided to visit Laura, who is one of my best friends in Bucharest that I met during my EVS. Romanians are very friendly, open and generous, so getting in touch with the locals and becoming friends with them is very easy. They will invite you into their homes, sit you at the table and serve you the best food they have. They believe in God, horoscopes, fortune tellers and legends, if you are interested in hearing some amazing stories, this is the right place for you. Many people speak English so the language won’t be a problem.

The next day I was supposed to be in Păltiniş and participate in Global Youth Rising 2016. I was the only Armenian participant, I was so excited and that I had a great opportunity from PATRIR and on the other hand for me it was difficult to take responsibility. In the morning almost in the last minutes of missing the bus I get a bus to Sibiu. I didn’t miss the chance to and I explored Sibiu a little b it, even though I was so tired after a 5 hour trip to Sibiu…

One of the GYR groups in Sibiu

One of the GYR groups in Sibiu

GYR participants in Sibiu

GYR participants in Sibiu

Sibiu is the one of the prettiest cities in Romania and one of its most important cultural centers. It lies in the very heart of the country, in the enchanting region of Transylvania and stands out due to its atmospheric Old Town, whose magnificent architecture conveys the visitor through 8 centuries of history and traditions. This lovely historical center is an ensemble of squares, museums and national Monuments of great beauty and inestimable value.

There is something pretty unusual about Sibiu’s rooftops. Most of the buildings in the old Town were endowed with tall attics with small-eye-shaped windows overlooking the city. Locals call them ‘’The City’s Eyes’’, and they are a  characteristic feature of Sibiu’s architecture. The city was full of life and creativity, and an attractive place for photographers… so I didn’t hesitate to take some pictures from many interesting sights and spectacular panoramic views.

 

The next day we started Global Youth Rising 2016, the most powerful and useful forum for sharing, cooperation and exchange. Trainers came from a variety of key organizations in the field of peacebuilding, including PATRIR, NOY, PAX, National Peace Academy, IAHV, Peace Revolution, Building Bridges for Peace, FCV, and many more.  Participants came from all around the world, from Guatemala, Canada, Egypt, Iraq, Bangladesh, the UK, France, Lebanon, and many more.

Working in groups

Working in groups

Global Youth Rising: a morning common session

Global Youth Rising: a morning common session

The Global Youth Rising youth peace forum provided me with new knowledge skills and broader understanding about peace building and conflict transformation, activism and social justice. I didn’t only acquire and develop skills and capacities needed to be more effective in my further work; I also had a great opportunity to be immersed in an environment of diversity: diversity of people, histories, cultures, ideas, beliefs and principles, where all were shared.

 

As I prepare to leave Global Youth Rising and return to Armenia, where I will continue to work for Women for Development, one thing I will remember is to be a change that I wish to see… to use the new gained practical skills,  knowledge and experience while working with WFD.

 

Trainer Spotlight: a Valuable Contribution from Alexandra Matei

Our application deadline has passed but if you don’t require a visa to enter Romania (click here to find out) this might be your lucky day – we have some open spaces and are accepting last minute applications!

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Alexandra MateiTell us a bit about yourself. What is your background?

Hi peacebuilders! I am Alexandra Matei, policy expert on peacebuilding and disaster management currently working in Brussels while proudly wearing my Romanian nationality.

For the past 3 years I’ve been working as a Policy Officer with the European Union institutions both as “an insider” as well as an NGO partner in policy decision-making. Currently I am working with World Vision covering four sector areas – peacebuilding & conflict prevention, disaster management (including resilience), child protection and child participation.

My work experience in these sectors tracks back to my academic background having studied my BA in Political Science at University of Babes-Bolyai, Romania and Masters in Human Rights Law and Research at The University of Manchester, UK. The knowledge acquired provided the opportunity to publish the book “United Nations: The Legal Responsibility for Peacekeepers’ Human Rights Violations” in 2011 after embarking on a postgrad course on Peace Research at University of Oslo.

Before joining the “EU Bubble”, I lived and worked in China, France and obviously, Romania where I served as an analyst, coordinator and/or trainer in the youth rights sector.

How did you start working in peace education? When, why, how did it evolve and what motivated you to stay?

Weirdly enough, I don’t think there was a moment zero when I decided working in this sector – it was more like a self-discovery process. Peace is not similar to a business that you want to join in or stay out of it. It is the motivation, the work and the result. It is a horizontal and vertical process. So, if I were to think of a precise moment I started identifying myself as a peace worker – it is probably the moment I decided to study political science, with the conviction that this is the one way to reach out to the most vulnerable in our communities and contribute to the cohesion of the society.

It surely was not an easy decision as for most people “peacebuilding” is a utopic concept that no one can grasp, materialize or make much sense of. Living in a world that puts the emphasis on quick fixes and results, peacebuilding is often deprioritized and under-funded. Not only personal experience but also hard evidence shows the long-term generational benefits it brings for communities worldwide, especially the younger generations. This motivated me all along – the work I do NOW that reflects in TOMORROW’s unquestionable positive impacts on children and young people who build a safer environment for themselves and their peers.

Tell us a bit about World Vision and your work there. What was it and what motivated you to work on it?

World Vision is a relief and development organization with footprint in almost 100 countries worldwide. We are dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. Through our work, we aim to build peace with and for children by weaving a fabric of resilience through their communities. From Bogotá to Beirut and from Bujumbura to Banja Luka and beyond, our peacebuilding programs help communities protect and empower children affected by violence.

Our tools aim to help these communities: resolve their own conflicts, build capacities to heal broken relationships, and nourish more just systems and structures.

When I first started with World Vision in Brussels, peacebuilding was not a priority for the external engagements we had with the EU. Things changed quickly when we strategically engaged and empowered children and young people from Lebanon to Zambia to inform EU decision-makers of their efforts to build social cohesion in their own contexts. The goal we have set is to facilitate this dialogue either directly or indirectly as well as support the other World Vision offices to profile their work towards the EU as a policy and donor agency.

To achieve this goal I provide input into EU’ development, humanitarian and peacebuilding policies. This means, analyzing existing policies, drafting position papers to influence EU’s priorities in the sector as well as coordinating other peacebuilding organisations to share their know-how of working in fragile contexts with the hardest to reach and most affected communities. In the long-term, our work empowers children and youth in conflict areas, educating and mobilising them for peace. The satisfaction of seeing them thrive and secure a just world for themselves is the most rewarding result of our work.

Have you ever had something extraordinary happen during your trainings? A favourite moment, something that you will always remember? What did you learn from it?

Last year’s event that World Vision jointly organized with United Nations in Brussels and the European Commission at the request of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon brings a smile on my face everytime I think of. Let me share this story with you – 17 young leaders were invited to engage in an open discussion with Mr Ban discussing various concerns they had. Maruba aged 13 from Zambia was one of the guest speakers invited for this event. He was the youngest and bravest of them all insisting to discuss about child participation at all levels of decision-making and toilets. He also was the one to make an audience of more than 1500 people question themselves – I surely did, thinking “What was I doing when I was 10? What could I have done at that time to make my community better?”

Maruba, was giving us a lesson – at the age of 10, together with his colleagues they started an advocacy campaign to install toilets in their district schools. They lobbied their teachers, their head of school, the district mayor and even the national governments and, by the time he came to Brussels, he could share with us all, not only how young people have the knowledge and skills to bring positive change but also, how “toilets” (their project) have reduced sexual based violence and decreased the cases of hygiene related diseases.

On top of that, due to the uncomfortable setting of the podium where the event was taking place, Mr Ban had to stand up and down everytime he spoke which indeed, was disruptive to the flow of the debates. Maruba, being seated just right to Mr Ban, took the liberty to ask him to stay put and stop his up-and-down movements as it was distressing for the audience and the other panelists.

Of course, the audience and Mr Ban himself gave it a good laugh, but the reflection of this moment is as simple as that – children and young people are best placed to be part of the decisions that affect them directly or indirectly. They not only have the intelligence to reason the situations they live in, but also the exquisite ability to solve the issues they face. For this, child and youth participation should be at the core of any local, national or regional planning and decision-making meeting!

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?

Around the globe, our team equips young people to be agents of peace in their communities. Children around the world have shown they can build peace in their communities and beyond. Here you can find some of examples of my work with young peacebuilders.

Children and other young people have unique perspectives on conflict, violence and peace. It is their perspectives that bring in unique policy and programming ideas that aline with the way children and young people operate. Their participation is important in identifying local solutions and influences that can be pulled together to achieve desired peace and social change. They also have distinctive ways of looking at the opportunities available for them to participate in building peaceful communities.

Several events we organized in Brussels as well as the Global Inter-agency Research carried out on 3 continents (DRC, Nepal and Colombia) highlight the impact and contributions of young people in building peace and some overarching recommendations from children and young people themselves:

  1. Engage children as peacebuilders from a young age to ensure continuity and increased impact.
  1. Encourage multi-pronged and multi-stakeholder efforts supporting children and youth participation to multiply and amplify peacebuilding impact.
  1. Engage with children and youth as partners in formal and informal governance and peace structures in a wide range of contexts, not only those affected by armed conflict.

What are you planning to deliver this year at the Global Youth Rising? Why do you like this theme? What makes it exciting?

Global Youth Rising sums up in three words the increased need to address the positive role young people play in peacebuilding by actively working to achieve a world free from fear. Being a young person myself, I identify with the mission and vision of this international forum – one that centers around young people as global change-makers. I will thus, support with facilitating workshops on empowering children as agents of change, youth empowerment and youth Participation, leadership & empowerment in Peacebuilding .

What does „peace” mean to you? What does it mean to be at peace?

Peace is when people are able to resolve their conflicts without violence and can work together to improve the quality of their lives. Peace means to live without fear and own the feeling of safety; a society in which all members are equal in their rights and responsibilities and access to the basic needs for their wellbeing. When the present and the future is a construct of people’s will “to do things better” regardless of gender, ethnicity or any aspect of their identity, a society finds itself at peace.

What is a peacebuilder? What does a peacebuilder do? Can anyone be a peacebuilder?

Being a peacebuilder is a commitment to self and the community. It is an active on-going process and end-result that centers on one’s willingness to: 1) prevent any type of conflict (including violent conflict) both among their peers and in their communities; 2) understand identities and the dynamics of their community with the purpose to build a cohesive society (including healing, restorative justice etc) and 3) ensure their work supports the sustainable development of their society.

Peace is an universal right! It is for each of us to the extent we accept it!

What are the main skills that a young peacebuilder should work on acquiring?

A peacebuilder is an agent of change – they change perceptions, dynamics, the course of an action etc. As change-makers, they need to understand, analyse, strategise and most importantly, never give up! Peacebuilders’ work is a 24 hour job – peacebuilders are drivers of motivation, are inspiring others (including themselves!) and they need to find creative solutions and be innovative, sometimes in the most fragile and insecure contexts. Peacebuilders need to be futurist in their thinking while being deeply connected with the realities of the past.

I have met so many people who were skeptical about the real impact that one person or a group of people can have in changing the world, and in creating peace. What is your take on this? What would you reply to the skeptics?  

Well, you might just be the flower that starts the spring rather than waiting for winter! Peace is not a miracle, neither a gift that can be kindly offered today and be taken away from you in a day. With the risk of repeating myself, peace is a process and a result – and as any other transformative process, it does not come as a quick fix or effortlessly. Consequently, peace as a result is just a part of the peace project – they reinforce each other.

So, to the skeptics out there – you cannot expect the world to shift around without you being part of this change. The beauty of building peace is that it drags along everyone in this project because dear skeptic, tell me of one person who ran away from peace to embrace living in fear?..  

A message for the young people out there who are considering joining us…

Be who you are – a peacebuilder – and join your fellow peacemakers in July to be part of a global movement that empowers, trains and supports you to make that big step for humanity!

Trainer Spotlight: A Message from Sabin Mureșan

sabin muresan
This week’s spotlight brings you an experienced practitioner and old friend of PATRIR, Sabin Mureșan, with a personalized message:
Dear friends,
After a few years of working with nonformal experiential education and as a radio journalist, I discovered peace work in 2001, when PATRIR was founded. First I wanted to help others solve their conflicts, so I started learning about and practicing conflict transformation and peacebuilding. A few years and post war countries later I realised that I am actually working on my inner peace, understanding my own conflicts and tension, my own blockages and shadows: a complex process of self-awareness and transformation.
Peace starts with me! With this realisation I have been working lately on helping teams and individuals tapping into and manifesting their inner peace resources. I have been developing a platform called Seeds of Happiness, which supports people in becoming  aware about their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual practices and balance. It is an exciting work and quite often I see people going through intense transformational processes. I get feedback on how their lives are changed by our meeting and I even noticed a couple getting married a couple of months after one of my workshops! (Not fully sure about the causality connection, though 🙂 )
I think that any peace worker could benefit from developing:
– a good ability to accept and integrate all experiences of life – pleasant and not so pleasant, as part of the transformative natural flow of a beautiful and mysterious reality.
– a solid understanding of peace work as a part of the living and ever changing Universe, with the essence of it being contained both in the greater ebb and flow of interdependence and in its interconnected parts.
I am planning to bring this two topics at Global Youth Rising and facilitate spaces for dialogue and practice on them. Keep in mind some key words: social permaculture,  spirituality and quantum physics, mindfulness and heart-fullness.
Peace starts with you. Here and now. There is no other place. No other time. No one else. It is all about you being fully aware, conscious and at peace about your every experience of life.
See you in three weeks in Romania!
Be well,
Sabin

Trainer Spotlight: A Meaningful Conversation with Meg Villanueva

MegHello and welcome to the Trainer Spotlight! Why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself?

Hello! My name is Meg Villanueva. I consider myself a strategist in sustainable peacebuilding and youth work, having worked in both sectors in the past 10 years. In the past 2 years I´ve been exploring and professionally learning about how to bridge sustainability and peacebuilding, with a special focus in the youth work sector.

I am also a freelance trainer and peace educator, mainly working in the fields of conflict transformation, nonviolent communication and advocacy. I have an extensive background in grassroots peace and conflict work especially in Asia (Philippines and Indonesia), Europe (South Caucasus region), and the Mediterranean (MENA region).

I have a master´s degree in Peace and Reconciliation Studies from the Philippines (2008).

I am also a Yoga Alliance certified RYT-200 yoga instructor, specialising in yoga as a healing and self-transformation practice. In September 2015, I moved to Zugdidi, Georgia where I slowly started a local yoga community, and where I am using yoga, mindfulness and environmental sustainability as tools for inspiring others to live a healthier and happier life.

I founded the project 366DaysofGratitude, an online community journal promoting happiness and gratitude. I also co-founded Mind and Surf, a social enterprise start-up organising personalised eco-retreats on surfing, yoga, meditation and sustainability.

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How did you start working in peace education? When, why, how did it evolve and what motivated you to stay?

I can say I am lucky enough to have both parents working in the same field as I do. They were the ones who inspired me to pursue peace work through their own project engagements and dedication, as well as through their examples of a simple and good lifestyle.

Since the age of 15, I started tagging along with my father in his community outreach programmes (streetchildren summer camps, mangrove reforestation projects, coastal clean-ups, etc), you name it, I was there. One day, he asked me to do a documentary film of one of his projects, a 10-year coastal community empowerment programme in Cauayan, Philippines. I was taking a shot a filmmaking then, so I gladly agreed. Living with the community for a weekend to capture their stories for the documentary, I realized how lucky I was to have my basic needs, and felt that I need to do something more to make a difference in other people´s lives. I started becoming more and more involved with the projects my parents were involved in, and when I was in university, I decided I´d like to focus on disarmament advocacy, specifically on small arms and light weapons (SALW) and landmines.

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 How does peacebuilding work relate to environmental sustainability?

To answer this question, I would like to open sustainability in its broader sense instead of just limiting it to its environmental aspect. Sustainability for me includes economic, socio-political and environmental dimensions. Economic sustainability is about a society´s economic equity and well-being, where there´s equal access to resources, basic needs and services, health, wealth (rich/poor gap) and livelihoods, as well as the efficient use of natural resources. Socio-political sustainability is about social equality – having equal participation in society, pluralism, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, non-discrimination, respect for diversity in terms of race, background, etc. Lastly, environmental sustainability is about the conscious use of our resources for the present and future. Sustainability in this sense, goes hand in had with peacebuilding by promoting its shared core – sustainable peace. This means that in any peacebuilding effort, sustainability in its broadest sense should be consciously promoted, because the main goal of peacebuilding is to establish/create positive peace – a stable environment where there is the absence of direct, structural and cultural violence (sustainable peace) through nonviolent/peaceful means. More often than not, sustainability is just defined in its ‘environmental’ sense, when in fact, it is a cross-cutting/transversal concept that should always be considered in any conflict/peacebuilding intervention. Peacebuilding is not just about fixing the root causes and core problems that underlie a conflict, but is also about changing patterns of attitudes, behaviors and context that are linked into it.

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Have you ever had something extraordinary happen during your trainings?

Every training I run and facilitate has their unique and special characteristics. They are all meaningful to me in their own ways, as much as they are all different – thanks to the diversity of participants, the diversity of the theme we tackle, the environment, as well as the co-trainers and organizers I work with. I once shared with a co-trainer that in every training, there is always this special moment that I look forward to, and it is during the closing circle of the training (the last circle with the participants) where participants share with everyone what they have learned, their reflections of the week, or simply some things that they discovered. It is this moment of every training when I feel and realize that I have done a meaningful job. It is in this moment that I gather strength and inspiration again to continue what I am doing (despite the challenging situations around us). And most importantly, it is in this moment that I feel grateful for being given the opportunity to do what I love to do.

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Do you think it is important for young people to be involved in promoting peace and non-violence?

Yes of course! It´s not even a question to me anymore =) Young people are part of the present (contrary to what we always hear that “youth are the future”). Youth as actors of peace and of change, are responsible in transforming the society they live in. Concretely, there are many ways, first, I believe, is to be at peace with oneself, as it is through one´s way of living the values of peace, can peace be spread around the world.

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What are you planning to deliver this year at Global Youth Rising?

I will deliver a workshop on the link between sustainability and peacebuilding, especially in the field of peace work. I am very excited about this theme, because I still continue to learn more and more about it, and sharing it with people from other cultures and backgrounds in the Global Youth Rising would be such an enriching experience.

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What does „peace” mean to you? 

Peace for me is the absence of direct, structural, socio-political, cultural and environmental violence, and the presence of positive conditions that support the well-being of a just and sustainable society. Yes, sounds like Galtung, but hey, it makes sense to me!

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What is a peacebuilder? 

A peacebuilder is someone who 1) believes that peace is both an aspiration and a process towards that goal; 2) works towards sustainable peace through his/her own examples, initiatives and actions; and 3) rejects violence in all its forms! (peace is the only way, no matter how difficult it is).

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I have met so many people who were skeptical about the real impact that one person or a group of people can have in changing the world, and in creating peace. What is your take on this? What would you reply to the skeptics?

I have met many of these people, too! Impact is very long term, and therefore challenging to measure. We should all understand that peace is a process – and dynamic and a long one. What is important is living the now (present) with such conviction that we are doing our part to make this world a better place. It’s good to think about impact, to think about a vision and a mission for what you do, it guides us, but to talk about impact like we have achieved it already is like writing a fantasy or fiction book because it is not there yet. To me, it is not just about the changes we can make in the future over-all, but also the little changes that we are making at this very moment. I don´t know if we can ever change the world 100%, what is 100% change anyway? The world is always changing and moving. But what I do know is that every step counts, and it is also important not to overlook the day to day that we live not just for ourselves, but for the benefit of the rest of humanity….

….and this is why I like to explore the theme of sustainability and peace work together!

So my reply to the ‘skeptics’ – I am sure we all want a better world, a peaceful world, a happier world – we want it for ourselves and our families, communities, countries. And we are all part of making it happen, not for tomorrow, not for next year, but now, and I think this is where each of us matters.

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A message for the young people out there who are considering joining us…

There is a peace superhero in each and every one of us. With this, we can create a movement that will rock this world!

Trainer Spotlight: Meet Andra Tănase

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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!

Trainer Spotlight: Say Hello to Kristin Famula

Kristin_FamulaWe are very excited to present you our extensive and stimulating interview with Kristin Famula, President of the National Peace Academy and Global Youth Rising 2016 trainer:

Tell us a bit about yourself. What is your background?
I have been engaged in peacebuilding work through the National Peace Academy since it’s founding in 2009 – and currently serve as President.  I live in California in the United States, in the mountains near Lake Tahoe – and appreciate the spiritual practice of being outdoors and enjoying nature.  I also work within the Unitarian Universalist faith to help educate people about the importance of living lives that are full of meaning and purpose and that contribute to building a world that is just and equitable for everyone.
How did you start working in peace education? When, why, how did it evolve and what motivated you to stay?
I have been passionate about peace work since I was a young child.  In the United States, school children often go out to the playground to play after lunch, and it common to see fights break out.  While the physical violence disturbed me, what bothered me even more was the people who would gather around to watch and encourage the violence.  I never understood what that mentality was about – and knew that I wanted to work to transform that mindset.

In college, I participated in a wonderful class about the skills involved in interviewing people to really hear their stories.  Our professor was an terrific, adaptive educator, and as the United States prepared for yet another war, he realized that this was a teachable moment, and redesigned our class so that we could focus on interviewing peace activists opposing the war.  The process of hearing people’s stories during that class, and then writing about their work and passion inspired my own activism for peace.  It not only stirred up my own inner peacebuilder, but taught me about the importance of life-long learning through formal and informal ways.

I eventually attended the European University Center for Peace Studies, where I received a masters degree, and then returned to the United States determined to work towards creating institutions and infrastructures that could support practical, realistic peacebuilding in the United States.
Tell us a bit about the Truth Telling Project. What was it and what motivated you to work on it?

The Truth Telling Project is a national effort to support a change in the systems and structures that support racism in the United States – specifically through the tools of truth-telling and restorative practices.

The U.S. has a long history of violence (in all forms) against people of color.  This violence has been woven in to all aspects of our culture and will take a national effort to transform.  The Truth-Telling Project uses lessons learned from past truth and reconciliation processes to begin our own effort towards tranformation.

I have long been interested in the impact that trauma has on people, and even more so, the impact that large-scale traumatic events have on entire cultures.  Trauma leads to future trauma unless fully transformed, and large-scale trauma, leads to future large-scale trauma in much the same way.  In large groups of people, trauma actually impacts the collective consciousness of the people.  The trauma impacts the way we see the world on a large level.  And so, without the tools for fully resolving the trauma, we continue to suffer from it.  Slavery, Jim Crow, and other structures of racism in the U.S., are just some examples of large-scale trauma that have not been transformed.

And thus events like Ferguson and other police violence, are results of those same structures.  My hope is that The Truth Telling Project can play a role in finally addressing the truths of what has been done in the United States, and begin a process of restoration and transformation.

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?


It is important for ALL people to be a part of creating the cultures, structures and institutions necessary for building peace.  Youth and young adults are often leading the way in exploring what needs to be done and having the courage to take the necessary steps when others might not yet feel ready.  Oftentimes though the efforts of young people are not understood or seen clearly and so it seems like they aren’t yet involved.  It will take all of us, having the courage to build relationships with each other, hear each other, and work together, to create positive change.

What are you planning to deliver this year at the Global Youth Rising? Why do you like this theme? What makes it exciting?


I will be collaborating with other facilitators to help shape and frame our concepts of peacebuilding and peace education through a holistic lens.  I will also help to guide participants through an ongoing process of reflection around our “take-aways” from our gathering.  Together we will examine how our learnings impact our work as peace leaders and what concrete steps we might take after we leave.  I am excited to learn from all of you and look forward to chatting with many of you about your visions for change and how we can support those visions.

What does „peace” mean to you? What does it mean to be at peace?


The National Peace Academy’s understanding of peace is shaped by the definition contained in the Earth Charter: “…peace is the wholeness created by right relationships with oneself, other persons, other cultures, other life, Earth, and the larger whole of which all are a part” (The Earth Charter, 2000). NPA believes that this definition invites learners to deeply inquire into the nature of “right relationships” by asking: what are the values, principles and ethics that inform and sustain right relationships, and how and by whom are they determined? Being in right relationships requires identifying, inquiring into, living with, and transforming existing relationships so that they are in accordance with our determined values, principles, and ethics.

What is a peacebuilder? What does a peacebuilder do? Can anyone be a peacebuilder?
One of the reasons I’m so excited to be working with the National Peace Academy, is that we know everyone has a role in being a peacebuilder, and we are excited about helping bring out the peacebuilder in every person.  We have worked with nurses, teachers, business leaders, students, corporate executives, etc.  All people can build peace in their own lives and in their areas of influence.  We aren’t often taught these skills in schools, and so we realize later in life that it is important to know how to be a peacebuilder in any career you have or work you do.

I have met so many people who were skeptical about the real impact that one person or a group of people can have in changing the world, and in creating peace. What is your take on this? What would you reply to the skeptics?


The idea of creating ‚peace’ is daunting when you think that it is an end goal.  I like to think of peace as a process, as ongoing work.  We might not ever get to that place where everything is perfect and peaceful on earth.  But we can continuously make it better for future generations – and we see examples of that on a regular basis.

 A message for the young people out there who are considering joining us…

Sign up now!  As soon as I received an invitation to participate as a partner in this program, I knew it was going to be different and important.  I knew that we wanted to be a part of such an innovative gathering of activists, practitioners, and leaders.  Join us to collaborate with others, get inspiration for your continued work, learn resources and tools for becoming an even more successful leader, and build friendships with others from around the world so that we can all continue our peacebuilding work with an even wider network of connections.

Thank you, Kristin! We are looking forward to meeting you in July!

Trainer Spotlight: a chat with Asma Khalifa

Asma KhalifaAs you’ve probably become accustomed, Monday brings you a new interview with one of our trainers. This week, we had a little chat with Asma Khalifa, a Libyan activist and researcher, co-founder of Amazigh Women Movement, a think/do tank that is working on gender equality and research on the indigenous women of Libya and North Africa. Let’s see what Asma had to say!

Hi, Asma! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am an activist / researcher specifically on peace, conflict transformation, feminism and youth empowerment, focusing mainly on Libya but working on projects in Syria and Yemen, currently living in Istanbul as I finalize my thesis ” the social movement in Libya”

How did you start working in the field of peace?

I was working on women’s issues prior to 2011, I didn’t identify it as peace work then. then from 2011 I was involved with various youth campaigns and was working at a Youth Centre. I was interested in studying peace and only started to call my work “peace work” in 2014.

 

Could you tell us a bit more about the work you’re doing in Libya, Syria and Yemen?

in Libya: at moment just finished two projects – women’s participation in local governance and fighting GBV, ad Libyan young peace builders: a capacity building project for you activists in Libya. I am also a consultant to a local NGO in their new project (For peace in Libya) and working closely with another on the rise of child marriage issue, currently leading a study on it.

I am also researching the Libya peace talks and contributing a chapter to a case study.

In Syria: I finalized recently a project on documenting sexual violence in the region, now am researcher, interviewing Syrian women refugees in Istanbul for a book project that sheds light on the multicolored/ diverse and the ” human” story of Syrian women rather than “the refugee” stereotype.

In Yemen: I am a member of volunteer team of researchers, investigating currently the airstrikes on Yemen.

 

What does peace mean to you?

Peace for me is plural and so “peaces” – it’s the ability to feel nature as it synergies within me, which I interpret as having the space to co-exist with all beings.

 

Why do you think it is important for young people to be involved in promoting peace and non-violence?

Not only do youth make up the vast majority of populations in MENA, which is a huge un-invested resource, but youth are the fresh stream in the veins of every structure. We have the energy, creativity and drive for change; we have different perspectives, which enrich every discipline. Everyone was a youth once, and I am sure they all wanted to find a purpose or a space to express or get involved. Creating that space which will generate positive outcome if nourished is, I think, vital to the survival of healthy societies.

 

What are you planning to deliver this year at the Global Youth Rising? Why do you like this theme, what makes it exciting to you?

I’m planning to deliver local methods in resolving conflict  (a conflict transformation topic), it is somewhat a new idea, derived from the need to translate all these theories and peace work in local contexts in MENA. People have misperceptions and are skeptical of “foreign” ideologies in their societies, but giving them something they relate to and is part of them they can accept more easily “the change”.

I will also be running a workshop on gender’s role in counter violent extremism. War and violent extremism affect women and girls differently. It hinders their participation in public life, therefore obstructing the development of the entire community. The lack of women in peace and CVE processes is one of the main reasons why these processes are ineffective and failing. CVE needs also to start tackling the recruitment of women in extremism and its consequences.

Bjorn Ihler and I will also be delivering a workshop on cyber security for activists, giving vital information on what it means to stay safe online.

 

And finally: A message for the young people out there who are considering joining us…

I know you are looking at all these goals and slogans with dismay and un-dared hope, I know how you feel, but we have tried everything else, we can’t we give peace a try? Why can’t we learn and grow and reflect that on our surroundings? Even if it’s a tiny speck of change, together we can make it a current.

 

 

Trainer Spotlight:meet David Prater

David Prater 02 (1) In our spotlight for this week, we are happy to present you David Prater from War Prevention Initiative, who will also join us as a trainer in Global Youth Rising.

Hello, David. Why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am a program manager at the War Prevention Initiative, operating out of Portland, Oregon. I focus my work on finding more effective ways of communicating the social and economic costs of war and the promotion of nonviolent alternatives to conflict. I am also co-editor of the Peace Science Digest, a research publication providing access and useful analysis to top research from the field of Peace and Conflict Studies. I hold a M.S. degree in Conflict Resolution from Portland State University.

Prior to my work in Peacebuilding, I worked for the United States Department of Defense as a civilian navigator and rescue swimmer. Over the period of three years, I worked across the Middle East, Europe and South America. While experiencing many regional conflicts through the lens of an American DOD employee, I took an interest in learning about the more viable, nonviolent alternatives to address conflict; alternatives that don’t involve the traditional tactics seen in today’s foreign policy and warfare. This decision motivated me to leave the DOD to pursue an education and career devoted to promoting peace and nonviolence in my community.

How did you start working in the field of peace?

I was introduced to the field through the desire to learn more about nonviolent alternatives to conflict. After my undergraduate education, I worked for the United States Department of Defense, where I witnessed first-hand the destructive policies and tactics many of the world’s powerful nations choose to employ when faced with conflict. Throughout my work with the Department of Defense, I began to realize that waging war not only rarely leads to a constructive resolution, it almost always leads to deeper conflict or the creation of new, more destructive conflict. Upon coming to this realization, I resigned from the DOD and enrolled in the Conflict Resolution graduate program at Portland State University where I studied nonviolent alternatives to conflict. From there, I began my work with the War Prevention Initiative where I still work today.

“I used to believe war was an inevitable part of human nature, and that war will always be around as the “last resort” to settle conflict. Now I know that there better and more viable alternatives to war.”

What was the most remarkable thing that happened during your career?

The most extraordinary thing that has happened so far is the complete change in my personal perspective regarding war. Before taking the time to learn about the alternatives, I used to believe war was an inevitable part of human nature, and that war will always be around as the “last resort” to settle conflict. Now I know that there better and more viable alternatives to war. Alternatives that do not result in the loss of millions of lives and result in disastrous social and economic costs.

What are you busy with right now?

I am very excited about our most recent project: The War Prevention Initiative is currently developing the Peace Science Digest as a publication to help bridge the communication gap between peace and conflict research community and its practitioners, the media, activists, public policy-makers. The Peace Science Digest is formulated to enhance awareness of literature addressing the key war prevention issues of our time by making available an organized, condensed and comprehensible analysis. We are trying to create a resource for the practical application of the field’s academic knowledge and so far, we have been receiving a lot of affirming feedback from our peers.

Why do you think it is important for young people to be involved in promoting peace and non-violence? 

I think that young people are crucial to the development and promotion of peace and nonviolence in our world. Not only are they going to be tomorrow’s leaders, but their leadership and enthusiasm can (and does) have a major impact today. Young peacebuilders are tuned into their surroundings; they understand conflict on an intimate level and have the energy, resourcefulness, and commitment to create real change.

          “Spreading peace from the ground up, starting in your community, is one of the best ways to really make a difference as a peacebuilder”

What are some concrete things that young people today can do in order to promote peace?

I think participating in your community is very important. Whether it is getting involved in civil society, running for a leadership position in your school or town, or even talking to your friends and family about the complex issues many have to face in their day to day lives. I think that spreading peace from the ground up, starting in your community, is one of the best ways to really make a difference as a peacebuilder.

What are you planning to deliver this year at the Global Youth Rising? Why do you like this theme, what makes it exciting to you?

I was immediately excited about the idea of bringing together a large group of young, international, peacebuilders and activists for a retreat. Having that much energy, experience and insight into some of the world’s most complex issues is sure to make for an amazing experience.

I look forward to sharing my experience with using academic research from our field to influence peacebuilding programs and to promote the success of nonviolence as an alternative to war. I also look forwarded to spreading the good news of a growing peace system around the world, and how many aspects of society have influenced the spread of peace and nonviolence. However, I am most excited about learning from the life experiences and collective knowledge of all the young peacebuilders and activists in attendance.

A message for the young people out there who are considering joining us…

Please do not pass on this opportunity! The chance to learn and collaborate with a group of your peers and the amazing trainers and coaches will provide for a once in a lifetime opportunity.  

Trainer spotlight: Jo Berry

Jo Berry

This week we have the honour to introduce an extremely inspiring ambassador for peace and reconciliation: Jo Berry, who will be joining us as one of the trainers at Global Youth Rising.

1)Tell us a bit about yourself. What is your background?

I have a degree in music and owned an alternative book shop in the 80s as well as being a aromatherapist. I trained as a parent facilitator in 1993 which was the beginning of learning about practical conflict transformation skills. I taught parents to not blame, instead to challenge the behaviour of their children so that the children gained in self esteem. Also taught empathic listening skills and helped the parents to see which part of the situation they could change. I primarily did this so that I could be the mother I wanted to be with my daughters. Now that the youngest is 20 and the oldest 25 I can say that they all have deep emotional intelligence as well very empathic and adept at resolving conflict so everyone wins!

2)Can you share a little with us about your emotional journey? How can a person who has experienced trauma start to move on with their lives and even to forgive?

We are all individual and have our own journeys, our own inner wisdom and our own timings. I will start by sharing some of my journey. Two days after my Dad was killed in a IRA terrorist attack I made a decision to bring something positive out of it, to understand those who had killed him and give up blame. I was on my own, just 27 but trusted that life would bring me the experiences I needed in order to transform my trauma. I did not have any support for my emotions and suppressed some of the pain until I was ready to face my feelings many years later. The one thing that would have helped me then was if someone told me, ‘ whatever you are feeling is totally understandable’. I have felt such anger and pain, but never wanted to hurt another human being with my pain. I have wanted to end the cycle of violence and revenge with me.

I chose to meet the one man responsible, Pat Magee, in 2000 when he was released from prison after the Good Friday Peace Agreement. I wanted to see him as a human being and hear his story. The first meeting lasted three hours and was the beginning of another journey. At first Pat came with a political hat on and justified the IRA strategy, but he did it with some sensitivity. Then he changed and opened up, later saying he was disarmed by the empathy I gave him. I went into that meeting not wanting to blame him and was curious as to who he really was beyond the faceless label. I left having seen some of his humanity and 16 years on he has become my friend. We have spoken together publically over 150 times and I have been learning about my own violence as well as the power of empathy. For both of us it has been a transforming experience

I believe with support we all have a capacity for healing and transformation. I could not be where I am today without the immense support I have received. I spent many months attending a story telling workshop in Ireland where I was free to share my story and was witnessed. That was the key to letting go some of the pain.

I am not sure forgiveness is an aim, for some maybe. For me is it more about understanding and empathy. When I hear the story of my ‘other’ then I know if I had lived their life I may have made the same choices, I don’t know. This is my truth with Pat Magee.

3)What have you been working on recently?

I have been working in a school in Tower Hamlets, speaking with the young people and planning to be there regularly so that we can go deeper into how conflict is experienced and the choices they can make. I went to Mexico at the end of last year and Pat was meant to come with me but was not allowed in at the last minute due to USA legal restrictions. We are both trying to return this year so that we can speak together. When I was there it was clear

that though Mexico is not in a war, the everyday violence has the effect on people as if they are in combat. I heard that my voice gave them hope and motivation to get involved with the many grassroots non violent groups. I am also working on returning to Rwanda with Pat as well as Palestine and Israel.

4) Can you tell us a little more about your organisation, Building Bridges?

We are a charity committed to understanding the roots of violence and promoting non violent ways of resolving conflict. I founded the Charity to support and develop the work I am doing with Patrick Magee in order to amplify the vision that peace comes though seeing the humanity in all.

5) What does peace mean to you?

Peace means to me the whole global family live in a peace, with justice, with freedom to move, to speak their truth, to practise their religion. Peace is when all have enough food, good housing, medical care, education and space to be creative. Where all conflicts are resolved with no one being hurt and many are resolved before they even happen. Human rights for all. I do believe that when we see the humanity of all, when we can empathise with all then we will not even have to work at making sure everyone has their rights as we would want for everyone what we would want for ourselves. Peace is also living in harmony with our environment, caring for our animals, our nature and our land.

6)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?

Many young people are visionary and find it hard to see the legacy of violent conflict or the effects of violent conflict still happening. Their passion can be harnessed with the peace building skills so they can be powerful positive change makers. We live in a time when there are so many ways to learn peace building skills plus know of the many successful peace building processes around the world. Never has there been such a time to work for peace.

7) A message for the young people out there who are considering joining us…

Thanks for thinking of joining us and I know the camp will be life changing for us all. I will be there to give any support you need as well as the whole amazing team. I sense we will build lifelong relationships which will give us strength to create more peace in the world. Creating peace is challenging as so many people, groups and governments still believe in violence yet together we can and do make a difference. I believe it is a unique opportunity to learn about inner and outer peace with some amazing people from around the world. We will all be learning from each other and you also have so much to contribute.

Trainer Spotlight: Meet Celina del Felice

This week we are taking a moment to bring forward peace educator, youth worker and researcher Celina del Felice, who will inspire us with her presence at the Global Youth Rising this year:

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Tell us a bit about yourself. What is your background?

My name is Celina Del Felice, I am originally from Argentina and I have been living in Europe since 2003, first in the Netherlands, then in Germany and now I live in Spain. I have a background in peace and development studies. I work as an educator (peace, HR, global education) and as a researcher. I develop and tutor online courses on global education with the Network University and the North South Centre of the Council of Europe. I teach and do research at the Open University of Catalonia (www.uoc.edu). My experience in European youth work is related mostly to the United Network of Young Peacebuilders. I worked for this organisation 2003-2006 and I still cooperate with them on project basis.

How did you start working in peace education? When, why, how did it evolve and what motivated you to stay?

I had very meaningful experiences in my childhood. I remember vividly the Falklands/Malvinas war. I was six years old and my cousin was recruited. Luckily he stayed on the mainland. My mother was a social worker and she took me everywhere so I could learn about the social reality around me. I spent lots of time at a home for elderly people established by the Spanish community in my hometown, Rosario. When I was around 9 years old I heard about the Spanish civil war. In my catholic school I heard about the conflicts in Central America in the 80’s… We were involved in different projects then. I decided to apply for a scholarship to attend the United World Colleges when I was 16 years old. I was lucky to attend Lester B. Pearson College in Canada. I was inspired by other students, teachers and of course, by the work of Pearson who was a Nobel peace prize laureate. I somehow knew very early in my life I wanted to be a politician, but in the broadest sense, a community builder. It was in Canada where I started to be involved in Amnesty International letter writing sessions and other volunteer activities. I had my first session about conflict resolution… Then I was lucky to be able to study at one of our public universities. We worked against privatization of our public universities and I volunteered in a human rights workshop in a public high school. That´s where I met Prof. Alicia Cabezudo and since then, I started to work with her on various projects, and later on, in her team at the local government. We worked with the youth department, with youth organisations, schools and we started working with the police after our big crisis in 2001.

Did you ever have something extraordinary happen during your trainings? A favourite moment, something that you will always remember?

During the first day of a seminar with police trainees and youth workers we had very tense moments. People had different understandings and accounts of police brutality, of what happened in December 2001, of our past during the military dictatorship…. As the seminar progressed, we observed how original fears and pre-conceived ideas started to go away. We ended up the week dancing together. I am not sure those young people changed completely their views, but I am sure at least they were aware of other perspectives and they knew someone “from the other side”.

What are you currently working on? What is the best part of this job?

Currently, we are developing guidelines on monitoring, evaluation and learning in youth peace organisations with the United Network of Young Peacebuilders and five of its members, one of them PATRIR. I am also developing a new online course on strategies to address conflicts within organisations for the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya.

The best part of my work is to observe personal transformations and to see that things can change, even if small, but when committed people work together, only great things can happen. Working is also the only way to keep my hope alive. It is my best antidote against all the bad news.

What does „peace” mean to you? 

Peace for me means a sense personal freedom, of justice, a sense of community and unity in diversity.

What is a peacebuilder? What does a peacebuilder do? Can anyone be a peacebuilder?

Peacebuilders are people who feel the responsibily to contribute to their  communities. They have felt loved, taken care of and nurtured and they want to be grateful and support others to also feel loved and appreciated. Peacebuilders build bridges, identify needs and try to address them in practice, heal wounds and above all, imagine that new futures are possible. Yes, anyone can be a peacebuilder if they want to.

I have met so many people who were skeptical about the real impact that one person or a group of people can have in changing the world, and in creating peace. What is your take on this? What would you reply to the skeptics? 

The world moves because of those that propose, build and do, rather that those that are indifferent and passive. There are historical examples of how individuals led positive changes: Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Wangari Mathai,  Berta Cáceres… only that their efforts were not scaled up, and we are learning still about how to deal with our own conflicts. If more efforts were put on research, education and practice in peacebuilding, at least as much as it has been put on going to the moon or Mars… or in developing cosmetics, we would be better equipped and experienced.

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?

Young people face many challenges today. In the past, utopias were built for them. Now all is questioned and societies are not capable of ensuring a sense of community and practically, basic rights like education, health or employment. Many young people feel excluded from society, so they look for a place of belonging, an identity and meaning. Often very innovatively, sometimes, not so easily.  Young people need to look for their utopia on their own, re-build their ideals from a constructive and hopeful perspective. In concrete terms, they can engage in projects that propose solutions and that can help improve the quality of life of people. It is not easy, but young people are very creative, future-oriented and driven.

A message for the young people out there who are considering joining us…

The camp will bring together like-minded people with a wealth of experiences. You will find plenty of inspiration, ideas and tools. You may not find quick-fix solutions, but for sure, a community of peace workers to walk the long way to peace. You will not be alone.

Thank you, Celina, for sharing your valuable experiences and insights with us! We are looking forward to having you at the Global Youth Rising 2016!

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