Being a fellow of the 27th Rotary Peace Fellow Class, I have appreciated the opportunity for self-reflection and to learn new things from both the speakers and fellows from 17 other countries. The knowledge and expertise people have shared is invaluable. As a professor, I have learned updated information on peace and conflict resolution, innovative pedagogy, and new materials to apply in my teaching and research.
During the week 6th on “Religions, Identities and Interfaith Dialogue” introduced by Ms. Khin Khin Lwin from Myanmar, I learned about the model on “socio-psychological foundations of intractable conflict” (Bar-Tal, 2007). Through the framework that was introduced through a conflict in Myanmar, I found it useful in enhancing my understanding about the inter-community relation tension in the Deep South.
Sharing the time with people who are passionate about working to better their communities has motivated me to continue the work I am doing in my own community. Even though we speak different languages, we share a common vision on social change and justice. Through personal conversations with several fellows, I have had a chance to exchange stories about the work that we have been doing. I have learned about their work and have been able to share my own.
During a group exercise, I was amazed that each group produced such good campaigns in such a short amount of time. This is especially impressive work involving people who are meeting for the first time and who also from different cultures and backgrounds. Even though many of them hold high positions at home, they are determined to share their own knowledge and expertise to the group and produce an interesting collaborative work.
I could not assume that all the people who had participated in the Rotary Peace Fellowship program would be all good and nice. However, in my experience, I respect all of the fellows in this class and simultaneously, I also feel respected by them. Sometimes our group work was chaotic, or we had heated conversations and disagreed with one another. We also have different preferences and personalities. However, I found that because the fellows value friendship and diversity. For instance, every time there is a disagreement, I observed that the group would find a way to return to positive energy with humor and creativity, in attempts to restore the group’s relationship.
The three months program comprises with people with diverse expertise (both the speakers and fellows) and comprehensive elements and topics necessary for people who are interested in working with conflict. Therefore, I would encourage anyone who works in the field of conflict and peace to participate in the Rotary Peace Fellowship program.
Acknowledgement: I thank you a kind friend and a peace fellow, Marissa Gutierrez-Vicario for kindly polishing my English.
Duanghathai Buranajaroenkij- Thailand
Rotary Peace Fellow – Class 27Read More
So we are in the third month of our 3 month Peace and Conflict studies at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand. When I first heard that I was chosen and heading to Thailand for three months, I was not sure what to expect so I did some research, but I was still not prepared for what the last couple of months has taught me. First I must acknowledge the informal learning that has occurred through all of the Peace Fellows that I have been with. I have learned so much about the various cultures, countries, and the work that our Peace Fellows do, which has increased my respect exponentially for all my colleagues. The work that the Fellows are doing and have been involved in is impressive and motivating. The formal learning through lectures from front line experience and class discussions all increased not only my knowledge but also my need to do more.
As I thought about what to write about for this blog, the concept of servant leadership constantly came to mind. Not only is it something that I am passionate about, but something I see in every one of my Fellows of Class 27. Not only that, but it is something that stood out with the villagers and fisher folk that we met. Servant leadership is leadership philosophy in which the goal is to serve those around you. Servant leaders lead with others in mind. They value diverse opinions and build trust with those around them. They think long term and do it all with humility and humanity. These few sentences not only describes the leadership that I value but the Fellows in class 27 as well as some of the community leaders we met in Songkhla and in Hat Yai.
Servant leadership to most people is a foreign concept. When we think of leadership, we often think positional. A CEO of a corporation perhaps or a government Minister. These people are certainly in leadership positions but that does not necessarily make them leaders. Leadership is not just a position, it is also a decision, and it is about making choices. From Simon Sinek, “if you have decided to look after the person to the left of you and look after the person to the right of you, then you have become a leader”. These few sentences best describe the people that I had the honor of spending the last three months. I met a person who has several jobs and not only looks after people in his day job, but created a non-profit organization to take care of others and educate to create peace across borders. I have met journalists, who give me hope because they believe in solution journalism, a concept to create peace. Educators who teach young people, not only providing them knowledge, but arming them to go out in the world and make it better. Justice professionals, social worker, engineer, nonprofit leaders, government workers and police officers all who practice servant leadership, they practice with heart and they practice with empathy. Their knowledge, passion, abilities, ideas, empathy and yes even their humor, leave me in awe and humble me. If this is the future of peace and conflict resolution, then we have a considerable amount of hope.
I would remiss if I didn’t speak about our visit to Songhkla and Hat Yai and the servant leadership practiced by the fisher folk, villagers and those that organized the groups. The two people that come to mind was the president of the Fisher Folk and Dr. Supat. Dr. Supat’s passion to help protect the interest of the villagers and his community activism was so very impressive and something we should all be doing more of in our lives. I spoke with him briefly about the impact that he has had on his community, and he not once accepted that this was his to own, but gave the credit to those villagers that work tirelessly in their community interests. The president of the fisher folk association spoken often about not being educated, however showed more leadership than most of those with five degrees behind their names. He spoke about working collaboratively and team work and how nothing can be done without those two concepts. Both Dr. Supat and the president of the fisher folks empowered others around them to achieve collective goals. These people create change through their servant leadership.
This experience has been one that challenged me, made me cry, made me laugh, and made me question my own reality. This experience has assisted me and will assist me in the future in creating a larger dialogue with a larger audience about creating peace and incorporating it in discourses about leadership. The axiom of ‘be change that you want to see in the world’ rings so true and even more so after the experience here at Chula and learnings from Fellows of Class 27. “Your impact is not measured by volume or by numbers. Your impact is to improve the life of another individual in some way – and what a beautiful opportunity that is” – author unknown
Menasha Nikhanj – Canada
Rotary Peace Fellow – Class 27Read More
It is indeed a great honor and privilege for me to be part of this global family of peace seekers, and it is an experience that will be with me forever. I became more fulfilled when I heard from the Deputy Director of Rotary Peace Center, Dr. Vitoon the number from where only 48 applicants were eventually selected to attend this year’s sessions. I didn’t know who and what to meet during the program but was prepared and determined to confront whatever might want to stand in my path of becoming a catalyst for world peace. Three months seemed a very long time to be away from my family and profession, but something kept reminding me that “you cannot pour water from an empty cup….” Coincidentally, I got the confirmation of this on my first day in class through the quote written on the board by one of my new fellows! I immediately got to know during my first week at Chulalongkorn University that Rotary Peace Center (RPC), Chula is a stimulating environment where brigades of professional peacebuilders are continually being branded for well over a decade for the invaluable use of our World that is constantly in search of peace.
No matter the reason(s) behind the smiles on the faces of the Thai people in Bangkok, this truly is a perfect place to learn about Peace. Most of the people exude smiles making it difficult to believe the country has gone through so many military juntas in her socio-economic and political development. Truly a land of a thousand smiles Bangkok is. Food, food, and more food everywhere yet I am not seeing obese population among the people who are clearly balancing what they eat which in itself is healthy, with so many activities to keep in shape. The elderlies are also not left out as you see them in clusters shaping up doing various forms of simple exercises in dancing.
The weather here is hot but the environment is generally fine. Chulalongkorn University is an attraction in itself. The kind of development it has experienced in the past 40 years is unprecedented in adding value to the tourist center of Bangkok city and as a citadel of learning in Thailand.
Class 27 is an array of individuals of peace seekers with great experiences and expertise in many professions. Some 16 countries’ matured individuals meeting mainly in just one room to know more about how world peace can be made better in our time. The camaraderie enjoyed by fellows within and outside the class is exhilarating and relaxing. I am not sure many in the Class have had the luxury of such beautiful company and experiences in this fashion in their adult lives before Chula!
Gbenga Adeoye – Nigeria
Rotary Peace Fellow – Class 27Read More