Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
As the Chinese saying goes: “a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step”. My journey, of three months, was officially launched on 08 January 2014. Peace Fellows from all over the world commenced this same journey at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, with full supported provided by the Rotary Peace Center and Rotary International. Our first weeks started on a high note as we actively participated in a range of lectures, asking many questions, comments, clarifications and engaging in theory linking practice activities. After becoming saturated with new models, concepts and basic facts, our focus turned to a field study tour, visiting Mae Sot in northern Thailand along the border with Burma/Myanmar. There, we gathered first hand information on refugee management. Through this first field study, we were able to more effectively link the theory we learned with practical aspect of peace and conflict transformation work. The tour was a success as some unknown facts, to us, were revealed.
Upon our return from Mae Sot, we explored another set of conflict transformation theories of conflict. Building upon our previous weeks, we further developed our conflict transformation skills, approaches and strategies. The visiting lecturers / guest speakers, joining us from all over the world, did their best to share with us a rage new ideas and concepts. Deepening our conflict transformation, building a sustainable peace, and post-war reconstruction took a centre stage for us. To avoid theoretical exhaustion, we engaged in another field trip. This time we participated in an international field trip to and through Cambodia (Siem Reap, Pursat to Siem Reap). Cambodia was certainly the right country to explore as it is a country that remains in political and economic transformation and moving through a peace building process given several years of conflict and genocide. After a week in both Mae Sot and across Cambodia, the practical component of our peace and conflict studies was added making the theories more workable and real than ever.
With two weeks remaining, the first phase of our journey will conclude on Friday, 28 March 2014, with our presentations at a public seminar, graduation, individual and group debriefings and a full evaluation. The second phase of our journey, and perhaps the most important one for that matter, will thereafter commence. The success of our journey over these three months will be based on our individual aspirations, perceptions and capability to put the knowledge and skills we have developed into use.
Ian Madalitso Saini, Malawi
Rotary Peace Fellow