Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand

Small Notes

Since starting the formal lessons 10 days ago, I’ve learned much as a Rotary Peace Fellow. Too much to list here, of course.

I write most of the general theory and course material down in a notebook so I can read it again at a later time. A bit like a handbook. However, I have this habit of jotting down ideas, pointers and insights at the bottom of whatever paper I’m taking notes on. This happens every time I’m in a meeting, at a conference or in a training. They are small reminders of things I should do, look up or look into once I get home. They are reflections I have and ideas that pop up. They are often things that are mentioned by the speaker or a fellow participant that aren’t essential to the lecture itself, but are interesting enough to remember. It might be the title of a book I should read, a reflection I have on the work I’m doing or simply an errand I have to plan. Yesterday, for example, I jotted down “buy post-its” next to “what are the connectors and dividers in the Immigration Office – human rights organisation tension?”

One of these notes simply says “Do STOP – START – CONTINUE”. It refers to a simple way to clarify an action plan. Just ask yourself the question what you need to stop, start and continue doing to achieve what you want to achieve? This very basic, commonsensical tool appeals to me because of it’s simplicity and transposability. Any actor can use it, whether it be on the micro, meso or macro level or whether they work in an air conditionned high-rise or a community center in a deprived area of the world. As peace actors, we can also use it to guide others by helping them get a clearer picture of their goals and actions.

While the question helps clarify steps, the underlying question of why you need to stop/start/continue doing something is far more fundamental. You can only answer the what question when you understand the (conflict) situation thoroughly. This is where conflict analysis comes in. Your goal has to be clear as well: what do you want to achieve? I won’t go into the possible tools and methods to answer these questions, as it took Prof. Erik Melander three whole days to give an overview. However, the importance of a thorough analysis before taking any action cannot be overstated.

Why do I mention stop-start-continue and my habit of bottom-of-the-page notes? Because these notes are where I connect the theory with my reality. The more bottom-of-the-page notes I made, the more I connected the lecture with my work (life) or used the theory to reflect on it. In some way, they reflect how useful the course is for me. And let me be clear: I have made many since starting the course.

Laetitia Van der Vennet, Belgium
Rotary Peace Fellow
January 2016 Session

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