This blog was originally set up to record my time participating in a Professional Development Certificate on a Rotary Peace Fellowship from February – May 2012 in Chulalongkorn University Bangkok, Thailand.
In the past year since finishing the Fellowship I have found the course extremely beneficial to my professional life at TIDES Training & Consultancy and it has allowed me to become more involved with Mediators Beyond Borders International.
Therefore I’ve decided to continue this blog focusing on wider systemic peacebuilding issues and I’m retaining the originally blog posts under this heading in the hope that it will encourage others to apply for the Peace Fellowship and to act as a resource to those who are successful in their applications.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the application process for the fellowship and I hope you find these posts useful!
In front of the live Twitter stream from @RotaryChula using Twitterfall
On day two of the Rotary World Peace Symposium we (Class 12) ran a workshop session looking at how peace fellows (over 650 worldwide) can assist with the Rotary “End Polio Now” Campaign. Polio has not yet been eradicated from Nigeria, Afghanistan or Pakistan and one the reasons for this is the difficulties caused by conflicts in certain areas in these countries. One of the aims of the session was to see if we could start to utilities the alumni network in these regions and beyond.
With the help of @rotary (International) and @EndPolioNow we managed to be repeatedly re-tweeted to over 150,000 “followers”. It was my first time running (along with Chris Quinlan) a live Twitter stream from a conference and it was great to see first hand the power of social media in being able to get the message of the session out to many more people than were actually in the room.
Unfortunately my netbook screen has decided to kindly stop working as my Fellowship draws to a close (I’m blaming the Bangkok humidity -84% today!) I will add more to this blog as soon as I get up and running again!
One of the final weeks was spent looking at the conflicts in Thailand. We focused on the aftermath of the 2008-2010 political crisis and the ongoing difficulties in the South of the country in the provinces of Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat. I felt that the lectures gave a comprehensive synopsis of the complexity of the issues facing modern Thai society.
Dr. Sukree Langputeh from Yala Islamic University, deconstructing the Southern Conflict in Thailand.
A representative from the Truth for Reconciliation Commission of Thailand
Mark Tamthai, Director of the Institute of Religion, Culture and Peace at Payap University giving a motivational talk about his lessons learned as an experienced mediator and peacebuilder
The last two weeks have been full of beneficial lectures from topics ranging from International Humanitarian Law to the role of religion in Peacebuilding.
Kishu Daswani, A Professor of Law in Mumbai delving into questions around “Just War Theory“
Dr. Chaiyan Rajchagool on the Moral Component of Peacebuilding
Some more conflict analysis tools by USAID from Jenn Weidman
An inspiring morning with Mr Bhichai Rattakul talking about lessons from his time as Thai foreign Minister dealing with the Vietnam War & Pol Pot…
As the overall theme for this final module was Conflict Transformation I found it really useful to hear past Rotary International President Mr Bhichai Rattakul emphasise the power of “the small things” when dealing with people but yet how to always hold onto to the bigger picture of how things will work out in the longer term 10/20 years down the road.
One of the stand-out meetings of the second field trip was with Search for Common Ground. I found their approach to peacebuilding to be very holistic and their level of positive engagement with the community to be inspiring. Their award-winning TV program “Our Team” uses the theme of football to open up discussion on social issues affecting the country. Each character in the show even has their own Facebook page that viewers can interact with. My meeting with International Alert was also a professional highlight of the trip. I met with an SSR specialist form Alert and received a real insight into how peacebuilding is happening at the grass-roots and governmental level in Nepal.
Meeting at the Underprivileged Children’s Educational Program (UCEP)
Midway through the week we made a long bus journey west, to the City of Pokhara. On the way we visited the Hoste Hainse Child Development Society NGO and their “Zone of Peace” School.
Playing a quick game with the school children.
Pokhara is a haven for someone like myself interested in the outdoors as it acts as a gateway to the Himalayas for many hiking and kayaking expeditions. Hopefully one day I’ll get some time there for some exploring. We made a stop in two Tibetan refugee camps in town. These settlements stood in stark contrast to the Burmese camps in Mae Sot as the Tibetan community are much more integrated into the wider Nepalese society than is practically possible for the people in the temporary camps in Thailand.
Meeting at a Tibetan refugee Camp in Pokhara
The CHESS/Heifer International project that we visited on the side of a mountain outside of town demonstrated how a holistic, well thought-out and practical approach to development can have a profound effect of conflict transformation on a community level. The project was obviously set in a very picturesque surrounding but it will be the testimonials from the women I will take away with me.
A community group welcoming us to their project.
Dawn over the Himalayas on our last day in Nepal
We left for Kathmandu last week for the second of our field trips. The overall theme was “Conflict Transformation and Building a Sustainable Peace”. Nepal is in the process of recovering from a ten-year conflict which was finally ended with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2006. When we were there the politicians where in the middle of negotiations about the Constitution which must be agreed upon by the 29th May.
A view of Kathmandu from the Monkey Temple
Kathmandu struck me as a very culturally rich city with many historically significant sites such as Bodhnath Stupa and the Living Goddess Kumari.
Buddhists Stupa’s (Bodhnath & the Monkey Temple, accordingly)
At the same time though you cannot help but be caught up in the traffic chaos and taken aback at the sheer amount of rubbish in the city. It is estimated that 42% of the overall population of the country are living below the poverty line and the difficulties that a ten-year conflict creates in terms of governance, civic amenities etc. are very evident.
Waste Management Issues on the Bagmati River in Kathmandu
With over a dozen formal meetings with various NGO’s and a 7-12 hour journey to Pokhara midway though the week, it was an intense field trip. More pictures and details to follow…
Meeting at The Nepal Transition to Peace (NTTP) Initiative