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!

The Link Between Climate Change and Conflict

“Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth… these are one and the same  transylvania_09fight. We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security and women’s empowerment. Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all.” Ban Ki-moon

Whether we say that we are peacebuilders, peace workers, social justice warriors or activists, we are all working for the same thing – peace. But what is peace? Is it merely the absence of war, or is it a society where everybody has equal access to services, resources, education; where everyone is treated equally, and is able to live in safety (see the difference between Positive Peace and Negative Peace)?

When we think about what the greatest threat might be to peace, it is easy to think that it is “war”, conflict, perhaps based on ethnic identity, oppressive dictatorships or human nature. However, there is growing consensus that one of the greatest threats to peace might be climate change:

“Assessments conducted by the intelligence community indicate that climate change could have significant geopolitical impacts around the world, contributing to poverty, environmental degradation, and the further weakening of fragile governments. Climate change will contribute to food and water scarcity, will increase the spread of disease, and may spur or exacerbate mass migration.” The US Department of Defense

“Climate change is a growing threat to peace and stability. This is why we need a new culture of cooperation..” — Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Foreign Minister, Germany

“Measured against the array of global threats that we face today — and there are many — terrorism, extremism, epidemics, poverty, nuclear proliferation — all challenges that know no borders — climate change absolutely ranks up there equal with all of them.” — John Kerry, US Secretary of State

Climate change can damage livelihoods, displace people, and create greater competition for resources. It is often argued that drought in Syria, caused by climate change, contributed to the creation of ISIS. We can no longer ignore the fact that the population of the earth continues to grow and increasing numbers of people demand “first world” lifestyles – lifestyles that consume vast amounts of resources – while the earth’s resources dwindle.

Although it is debated as to whether climate change directly leads to conflict, it is certainly important to ask whether we can truly have peace in a world where demand for energy far outweighs supply, where our livelihoods are at risk and we compete for clean water, where we see species becoming extinct and extreme weather destroying the places we love.

At Global Youth Rising, several workshops will explore the links between conflict and peace and the environment, the importance of environmental sustainability in peacebuilding, and how permaculture can be used as a method of peacebuilding. We invite any young people who work on environmental issues to join us for 10 days of exciting workshops, training sessions, forums and the chance to meet other passionate young people from around the world who are working on similar issues.




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!

Friday Organisational Spotlight – Building Bridges for Peace


As you may remember A while back we had an interview published with Jo Berry the founder of Building Bridges for Peace. Today we are doing a spotlight of the organisation itself and write a little about the workshops led by Jo.

The charity Building Bridges for Peace was launched in Brighton in October 2009 on the 25th anniversary of the Brighton hotel bombing. On October 12th 1984, the IRA (Irish Republican Army) exploded a bomb in the Grand Hotel, Brighton, during the Conservative Party Conference killing 5 people and injuring many more. Amongst those killed was Sir Anthony Berry MP.

The family of Sir Anthony Berry were devastated, but for his daughter Jo, it also signalling the beginning of a life-long mission for peace.

16 years later, Patrick Magee – the man who planted the bomb – was released from prison and Jo arranged to meet him. As they listened to each other’s stories they came to realise that this was the beginning of a journey of peace and reconciliation to which they were inextricably bound.

Building Bridges for Peace works to enable divided communities and the general public to explore and better understand the roots of war, terrorism and violence. They promote dialogue and mediation as the means to peace.

There is no other pair with a comparable history to Jo and Pat working together in this way in the UK or who are travelling outside their home country to other areas of conflict. What distinguishes their work and the impact they have is their particular story, the unique relationship that they have developed, their capacity to share that with others and testimonial evidence of what they have achieved. Jo Berry and Pat Magee have given talks in Palestine, Lebanon, Rwanda and throughout the UK.

Jo and Pat talk frankly and movingly about the discoveries and challenges they face in working together in a way that breaks down their audience’s conventional judgemental assumptions. This opens up to all who hear them the scope to re-examine beliefs, grasp the potential for empathy, understanding and forgiveness and take action for reconciliation even in the most extreme circumstances.

This work is particularly needed, as violent conflicts tend to arise within countries and communities as much as between them.

The difference their work makes is:

  • at grassroots level, people caught up in the seeming hopelessness of the conflict/ post conflict situation gain empathy, understanding and hope that supports them to take action towards reconciliation

  • by demonstrating what can be achieved through reconciliation, make a stronger case to policy makers to devote more resources to it

  • inspiring a wide range of people to take more action to promote non-violent and empathy based approaches to situations of conflict

During the International Youth Peace Forum, Jo Berry will share her story of losing her father in a terrorist attack and how and why she met Patrick Magee, the man responsible. She will share the lessons learned and how they have become friends. She will answer questions and create an emotionally safe place for all responses.

There will be a chance to share experiences of our ‘other’ without any judgement. The mentors will be around after if any participant would like to be heard on a deeper level. Participants will separate into groups/pairs and produce a mindmap or sketches – also will give feedback to the group.

We are thriving to create a space of deeper understanding of our personal response to being hurt, to encourage considering more choices with how we respond, to develop more awareness of the story we tell ourselves and our emotions and to realise more connection with the ‘other’ and humanity.

We will also have the chance to develop your listening skills and challenging behaviour. We will learn how being heard and acknowledged will empower us, and how to develop our empathy and compassion.

We welcome you to apply if you haven’t done so and follow us if you already did!

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.



Participants from Ukraine – Scholarships Available

Ukraine: Seeking Passionate Civil Society / Peace Activists (18 – 30) ukraineflagpicture2

Scholarships to take part in the International Youth Peace Forum: Global Youth Rising 2016

Global Youth Rising 2016 is excited to announce that we have scholarships to support two applicants from Ukraine. One of the main aims of Global Youth Rising is to create a global solidarity movement for peace, focusing especially on Ukraine. PATRIR, the main organisation behind Global Youth Rising, is based in Cluj-Napoca, Romania – and as Ukraine’s neighbours, we want to do what we can to support youth activists and peace workers there.

Our scholarships are able to cover costs of travel from Ukraine to Romania and participation in the camp. Applicants should:

  • Be between 18 – 30 years of age;
  • Already be involved and able to show a record of engagement in civic initiatives in Ukraine. Priority will be given to applicants who are involved in / working on peacebuilding, strengthening civil society, youth participation, and overcoming / addressing the impacts and effects of the war;
  • Be highly committed, passionate, and wanting to gain further skills and experience which will help you in working in peacebuilding and empowerment in Ukraine

Those interested should send:

  • Letter of Motivation / Expression of Interest on why you wish to take part and how you will benefit from the programme;
  • Two Reference Letters Recommendations from your organisation or organisations you’ve worked with
  • CV


Applications can be sent to: 

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.  

IAHV – The International Association for Human Values

This week we are presenting you another partner organisation helping in realizing GYR: IAHV. So let us tell you a bit about who they are and what they do and what they will bring to this forum to share.

The International Association for Human Values (IAHV) is a non-profit, United Nations-affiliated organisation founded in 1997 in Geneva, Switzerland, by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar,the Dalai Lama and other world leaders. Its mission is to build a sustainable and inclusive peace by promoting and supporting the development of human values in both the individual and societies on a global scale.

Through its country organizations and partners, IAHV conducts service projects and raises funds for humanitarian and disaster relief initiatives throughout the world.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a humanitarian leader, a spiritual teacher, and an ambassador of peace. His vision of a stress-free, violence-free society has united millions of people the world over through service projects and the courses he has developed.

IAHV Peacebuilding was set up in June 2013 with the aim of identifying, articulating and developing IAHV’s unique expertise and approach to peacebuilding in order to strengthen existing peacebuilding efforts worldwide. IAHV Peacebuilding addresses two vital factors, which influence the way communities prevent, mitigate and transform conflict and build peace.

First, they offer programs and trainings which empower individuals who are involved in or affected by conflict and violence, having identified the clear linkage between individuals and the roles they play in animating effective and positive institutions, sectors, and societies.

Second, they promote universal human values such as non-violence, dignity, equity, justice and well-being, which produce a positive impact on the way individuals, relationships and communities interact at every level of society. Focusing on the individual as the basis for social and political transformation is how we turn personal transformation into peacebuilding impact.

IAHV believes that sustainable peace requires a combined focus on systems and structures and on personal and social transformation in an integrated approach. With its ancient roots and practical approach, IAHV brings a unique added value to peacebuilding, upholding simultaneously the complexity of global realities and the simplicity of universally shared human values.

They address the missing dimension of international peacebuilding today by effectively transforming people’s minds, hearts, attitudes and behaviors to enable them to shun violence and contribute to peace. Their programs to calm down the minds, soften the hearts, create a sense of belongingness, inspire ownership and commitment, and foster the blossoming of shared human values in all sectors of life, work on fundamental and deep layers of peacebuilding.

We are pleased to welcome Katrien Hertog from IAHV to Global Youth Rising, where she will deliver workshops on inner peace, empowerment and leadership, as well as addressing issues of extremism and non-violent communication.

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.

Peace In Peace Out. Peace Revolution :)

We are proud to present the on this Friday’s spotlight another PATRIR partner who will join us the Global Youth Rising Peace Summit: Peace Revolution.

Established in 2008, Peace Revolution is a global project that strives to bring peace to the world through supporting individuals to find peace within: Peace In, Peace Out. The core principle of the program is that when individuals first experience inner peace (Peace In), sustainable world peace can happen (Peace Out). Peace Revolution has an online social platform that aims to address that imbalance by providing an opportunity for young people from around the world to learn and share positive messages and activities relating to peace. The project also aims to empower young people via a unique process related to youth development to make informed and moral choices about how they live their lives and actively participate in society.

Peace Revolution strives to bring peace to the world by supporting individuals to find inner peace and sharing that peace with their families, friends and communities, hence the slogan PIPO or Peace In, Peace Out . So, in order to change the world, we need to start by changing ourselves. The unique approach that distinguishes Peace Revolution from other peace initiatives is the inclusion of three components that support personal development of their members, aka Peace Rebels. They cultivate inner peace time through meditation, participating in an online self-development program, joining a face-to-face inner peace training in different parts of the world, joining or organizing special online inner peace activities – “special ops” – and spreading the concept of Peace In, Peace Out by organizing PIPO activities.

The program therefore aims for youth’s “personal and moral” development. Participants of the program denoted as Peace Rebels will be inspired and trained to create a transformation for themselves and then the society they belong to. The Peace Revolution’s Youth Development Process is centered on the following key terms: inner peace education, self-development program, Special Ops and fellowship program.

  1. The inner peace education allows Peace Rebels to attain peace at both the individual and community levels starts with self development.

  2. The online self-development program includes three sections: inner peace education previously mentioned, self-discipline and daily entry. Peace Rebels are asked to maintain the acts of self-discipline during the 42-day program. The daily entry has set of questions to encourage peace rebels to look more closely at themselves and their relationships with others. Each Peace Rebel is allocated a group of Peace Coaches who follows the rebel’s progress and provides encouragement and support.

  3. Peace Rebels are encouraged and to share inner peace with their families, friends and community through various offline activities “Special Ops” so they learn how to combine Peace In with other Peace Out activities for their society.

  4. Peace Rebels who have completed the online program are invited to join offline fellowship to attend one of the meditation retreats in Thailand. After joining the fellowship, they will become agents of peace or “Peace Agents” who devote themselves for the causes of peace in their society and the world.

We are pleased to announce that Manuela Puscas from Peace Revolution will be joining us as a trainer at Global Youth Rising and will be delivering workshops on how to make peace with your inner conflicts, the role of individual peace, nonviolent communication, and stress management and mindfulness in the context of peacebuilding. So, who wants to be a Peace Rebel? APPLY TODAY to join us at Global Youth Rising!