ICF Welcomes 14 Participants for the School of Peace 2023 in Nepal

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Last Updated (Friday, 03 March 2023 16:29)

“The School of Peace aims at building a community of youths who will be enabled to commit themselves to promote peace and harmony in their respective communities.”

After a week of zoom classes and self-learning, the Interfaith Cooperation Forum (ICF), together with its collaborator, the Nepal Unites, was happy to welcome the School of Peace (SoP) participants at Bhaktapur Guesthouse in Bhaktapur, Nepal on Monday the 30th of January. Fourteen participants from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam arrived to spend the next 50 days together. The following day, the in-person SoP officially began with an Opening Ritual, including words of welcome from the owner of Bhaktapur Guesthouse, where the group will reside until the 25th of February. On the 25th the group will embark to experience a community immersion and move to the second venue at Ratna Giri Resort on March 1, where they will stay until the end of the in-person program on March 20th.

The participants learned about and discussed a range of different topics. In the beginning, the participants went through exercises in learning more about themselves, who are they, what they value, what makes them who they are, etc. This was done through the sharing of “Life Stories” that ICF Staff Baidido Saganding facilitated. It is important for the participants, as young peacebuilders, to know who they are and what they stand for before learning about others.

An important aspect of the SoP is the exploration of the major Asian religions and indigenous spirituality. Some religions and spiritualities were not familiar to some participants and they learned about these for the first time. Other religions or spiritualities were more familiar, especially to the participants who are adherents of such religions and spiritualities. But even then, their understanding of these religions was deepened. The different religions and spiritualities were covered either by in-house speakers like ICF Coordinator Muriel Orevillo-Montenegro on Judeo-Christian traditions or by visiting places of worship such as the White Monastery for a Dhamma talk. Beyond Judaism, Christianity, and Buddhism, the participants also got the chance to learn more about Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Baha’i Faith, and Indigenous Spiritualties.

In addition to gaining knowledge about different religions and spiritualities, the SoP in Nepal already provided young peacebuilders with information on how to analyze a conflict and comprehend the peacebuilding frameworks from Galtung and Lederach. Furthermore, the SoP also focused on Human Rights, Children’s Rights, and Women’s Rights by exploring the UN Declarations and Conventions connected to these topics. A range of activities challenged the participants to recognize the situations in their countries and communities. Feminist theory and Ethics were introduced to provide the participants a lens for understanding the work for gender justice, the intersectionality of identities, including LGBTQI, and the connection of gender issues with the plunder of Mother Earth.

Another important issue that was discussed during the SoP was the Climate Crisis. Considering that all the participants come from countries that are highly affected by the consequences of climate change, this topic was much awaited by the participants.

SoP has four more weeks to go and there are many more topics to be covered and studied. ICF is looking forward to this upcoming time to spend learning together in Nepal.

Annika Denkmann
BftW Seconded Personnel