Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
As I started writing today, I found myself struggling to find the words or where to start to tell everyone about my week. Classwork alone has been intense, given the new models of conflict analysis we learned, and I drew the lucky card to be responsible for two presentations. I’m being a little dramatic, given that the second presentation was only having to facilitate discussion on what we learned or thought was important so far. However, I still struggle to contemplate everything and find the words that give my experience here justice (and maybe I’m a bit tired from being on an island in the Gulf of Thailand for the weekend…).
From traveling last Sunday to Kanchanaburi, swimming in tropical waterfalls to an intense week of learning different conflict analysis models, this past week has been eventful. Perhaps a good reason to put thoughts to paper…
This week we were presented with several different conflict analysis models that we can use to discuss (analyze) the individual conflicts that we are working on. I am doing a conflict analysis of organized crime in Alberta communities (with an emphasis of course on Grande Prairie). While we learned the theory, and were assigned a particular model to research and present, many members had very legitimate questions relating to the application and origin of these models. My personal opinion is that a model is only as good as the people that use it, and that it shouldn’t be anything more than simply a framework to start organizing your thoughts.
I’m a huge fan of checklists and models to help with dealing with bigger projects (any project, not just conflicts). Checklists and models allow us to focus on the things that matter, giving space for critical thinking while not having to worry about the mundane (however important) things. I think this allows us to be more creative, giving our minds space to reach out and come up with new ideas and new solutions.
If anyone is curious, check out the book, “The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right” by Atul Gawande.
Of course, we we had to get some fun in this week, and we went with our classmate Rose (who is from Bangkok) to check out a local Jazz club. I swear the singer of this group is the Thai version of Michael Bublé. We were even blessed with a some amazing harmonica playing by a future instructor of ours.
As the night wears on I look towards everything coming forward this week including a ten page paper and plans for our first field study to Ubon Ratchathani (where an ancient temple is currently at the centre of a decades long conflict with Cambodia). Much more to come as the course ramps up and the practical work begins.
John Lamming, Canada
Rotary Peace Fellow
January 2013 Session