Still building peace one person at the time
The week 3 of our Rotary Peace Fellowship at the Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok was dedicated to the diagnosis and analysis of conflicts. With the guidance of the week’s guest speaker, Martine Miller, we were introduced to the basic conflict analysis tools like ABC triangle, conflict tree, and force field analysis. The week turned out to be an intensive one: We did a lot of readings, carried out several group work exercises and digested new concepts. We also started contemplating our individual conflict analysis papers. On Friday evening after the class, there was a special treat waiting for us: One of the local Rotary host counselors had kindly invited a small group of Peace Fellows to the classical music concert at the Thailand Cultural Center.
We dressed up. We wore face masks which protected us from air pollution and hopefully also from the Corona virus that reached Thailand just days before our Peace Fellowship started. When we got to the Thailand Cultural Center’s entrance our body temperature was measured. We passed the test. As the concert was about to start, we discovered that one of the princesses of the Royal Thai Family would also be attending the occasion. When she arrived, we all stood up. The Royal Bangkok Symphony Orchestra played the national anthem. The princess waved in a royal fashion from the balcony and as she sat down the concert started.
The concert hall was filled with Beethoven’s Rage over a Lost Penny in G major. Beethoven was followed by Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy, Op. 46 and R. Schumann’s Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, Op. 97. The music was incredibly beautiful, uplifting, and energizing. I felt happy. The tones of the music took me back to over 30 decades in my time as a Rotary exchange student in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. I was fortunate to be hosted there by a wonderful Rotary family, who shared with me the love of classical music, and with whom I attended many, many great concerts. As I was listening to the symphony play, memories filled my mind of experiences of my exchange student year, as well as, the lifelong friendships established back then.
I recall that the aim of the Rotary Youth Exchange Program is to ‘build peace one person at the time’. Looking back on my life now, I wonder whether I would have chosen to study human rights and ended up having an international career dedicated to improving the lives of migrants and refugees without my Rotary exchange student year. Maybe not. Thus, it seems that my Rotary “peace programming” started decades ago with the exchange student experience and now this ongoing Peace Fellowship is only a natural “program update”. It makes sense and feels right to be here. I enjoy the classical music in the company of my like-minded Peace Fellows. New lifelong friendships and professional partnerships are being formed right here and right now. I feel inner peace. After the course, I will continue building peace one person at the time.
Tiina Miskala – Finland
Rotary Peace Fellow – Class 28