Forming Our Fellowship
Members of Rotary Peace Fellows cohort 28 are at the end of our second week together in Bangkok. Exploration of the city has included Chinatown, the Chao Phraya River, Bangkok’s modern transportation system, and the nearby Bangkok Culture and Arts Center.
Irene Santiago and Tom Woodhouse invited us into study and dialogue about the history and contemporary state of conflict resolution, the nature and causes of conflict, and gender. Specific case studies overlapped with examination of social structures and relationships.
Irene and Tom are experienced and well known professionals. They are also involved in the redesign of the Rotary Peace Fellow professional certificate program. Their insights from a lifetime of work in the field, and the experience they brought from their role in guiding more than a decade of Fellows was invaluable. They were also genuine and generous.
As we finish the week’s work some key points are clarified. It’s difficult to summarize. The points and tools for implementation are simple. But the situations to which they are applied are complex. The points and tools require context to take on their full meaning.
This is a metaphor for the Rotary Peace Fellow program. It’s easy to read biographies of Peace Fellows or summaries of their work. Meeting Fellows in person, learning about their families, eating meals together, observing personal and cultural body language and communication styles all bring life and depth to the statements they make about their work and create a level of respect that would otherwise be impossible. Those shared experiences create a depth of understanding of each Fellow’s project and context that would otherwise be impossible. The strength of these relationships is grounded in a mutual respect rooted in the details and differences that shed light on our mutual humanity.
Andrew Stone – USA
Rotary Peace Fellow – Class 28