Reflections from Peace Messengers
Laetitia Barbry, EVS and Peace Messenger at OWA-Poland, following a Peace Messengers training session in Novi Sad, February 2008.
"As it was an unclear and uncertain point for the people who attend the training themselves, I, therefore, would like to insist on the nature and work of the future and past Peace Messenger. They won’t be coming as Mahatma Gandhi himself, surrounded by light and peacefulness incarnation, they won’t be carrying a conflict -resolution –solution-pack-ready-to–apply, But they will work for and about peace by coming to workcamps to “Give something to think about and possibilities to do… .”
By being “Link between SCI vision and its mission.” The Peace Messenger will intend to be “A person that makes people at a workcamp aware of peace issues in their environment, in the workcamp itself and after their return home.”As I cannot speak for the 20 other people who attend the training (15 different countries).
Let me tell you how I see the next few months. Firstly the task and aim of Peace messenger won’t be possible without a close collaboration with Campleaders, a mutual decision of how, when and how long I (let’s assume from now on that I will be the next Peace messenger) will stay on each workcamp. The campleader play an important role as link with the project partner, the volunteers. The "Peace activities” themselves will be prepare beforehand but will be flexible regarding to group dynamic and camp work and topic. It will consist on games, workshops, discussion depending on the group, the time, topics will also be flexible but probably insist on Intercultural dialogue and learning. A last point is to specify. The “Peace Messenger” project as such, should be define, undertake, evaluate and leave a trace which will be useful not only as a report of activity sitting on a shelf but as a real tool for next generation at SCI international level. There will be a time for few people sitting around a table with the word “ booklet” between them , and this also have to be planned. So, let’s put a definitive end to this “article”: by inviting all campleaders, volunteers interested in this project to contact me, check the spaceforpeace.net or also just think about a very simple question: “How do YOU see the Peace messenger work?"
Travelling Peace Messengers 2010
As a secondary school teacher I have become increasingly preoccupied with the conflicts that originate in the classroom in public schools, the widening distance between parents and children, teachers and children, teachers and parents. The need to give more attention to education and conflict resolution within our schools has become obvious in recent years. Therefore I believe that a training in peace education and conflict resolution is a must for anyone interested in and working with children and young people. Hence my interest to participate on an SCI voluntary project again. Especially one that offered the possibility of taking part in a training course on Peace Education, put it into practice through the creation of a workshop and present it at different voluntary project sites all over Germany. It was challenging, but also very interesting.
We stayed in Martin Niemoeller's house in Berlin, where we spent the first week of our training. There were the teamers Anne and Felix, eleven volunteers from eight different nationalities and two trainers: the amazing Kathy Schroeder and Lorena Rodriguez. After five days of training we were ready to become Peace Messengers. It was time to form our own teams in order to create the workshops on Peace, Violence and Conflict Resolution that would be presented at different international voluntary projects. What followed were two weeks of intense travelling by train with Zosia and Ana.
Our route took us to Sanzkow, where we joined a group of volunteers taking part in the initiative "Bürgerhaus e.V.". Meeting the first group of volunteers helped us to shape our own discourse and by the time we reached Glücksburg, the second project, our confidence had been established. We arrived at the "Artefact Centre" on Friday evening and spent the whole weekend engaged in leisure activities with the volunteers, which included a bicycle ride around the Baltic Sea coast on the Danish border. On Monday we joined the rest of the volunteers in the task of cleaning and building compost toilets, on Tuesday we presented our workshop and left the following Wednesday. In this project, the group of volunteers was far more eclectic than in the previous one. There were people from Japan, Russia, Ukraine, France, Italy and Germany and it was very interesting to observe the different reactions to certain aspects of Peace and Violence depending on the cultural background.
Our third and last work camp was Tagungshaus in Wernsdorf. Speaking for myself, this was a huge discovery. We found an amazing group of people already living and working together, far from power-based structures. It really seemed rather pointless to do a workshop on Peace when we could learn so much about it from the group itself: people who were already living peace. Nevertheless, after a day's work, the time to do our workshop arrived and we presented it to the volunteers working there, a very enthusiastic audience ready to participate and help. The next day we were going back to Berlin to close the circle.
Once back in Berlin we met the rest of the travelling peace messengers. We were all full of stories and anecdotes; we found out that other groups had been less fortunate then ours and were not always received with the same hospitality that we encountered. I am sure that I can speak for the majority of us when I say that we enjoyed it enormously and there are many unforgettable moments. Personally I learned a great deal about Peace, Violence and Conflict Resolution and about other people. But above all, I learned about myself.