Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
Being a Rotary Peace Fellow has brought me a wide array of experiences. I have learned about the political situation in Thailand and what the meaning of different shirts’ colors is; I have learned the different ways to “wai” depending on the hierarchy of the other; and I know that the best “Tom Yum” soup is at the Coconut Place in front of CUI. In Ayutthaya, the temples talk about the history of the ancient Kingdom of Siam, with Thai stupas, others with Khmer influence, and others showing the Burmese occupation and destruction of the city. In Mae Sot, the Friendship Bridge tells a complex story of statelessness and uncertainty, while also exhibiting stories of hope and people working vigorously for peace. But at Chulalongkorn University, every day I learn from other Fellows, from their questions, their statements, our agreements and disagreements, from their passion; and from the professors, who have shared their experiences but also have guided us to reflect on what “we think we know”, to open the discussion, find our preconceptions and think out of the box.
After two intensive months now, there are many things to reflect on, and a long way to wrap it up all and give it sense in each Fellow’s particular context: how’s conflict framed, what’s the function of the distinctions in conflict and how to break through them; how peace looks like, how to measure peace, how to build up knowledge, lessons learned and systematize practices; how to guarantee that individuals and communities are at the center of the policies, how to leverage on the connectors to build peace, among many others.
While being at Mae Sot, I read a statement of U Kyaw Soe Hlaing –Executive Director of the Myanmar Peace Center, who has been involved in the Peace Process– which I found to be an excellent guideline not only for my reflection, but for the next steps:
“At that time peace was only a dream, but of course, these dreams are also realistic thinking, because we should dream, but dreams should be realistic; you should dream about what you can deliver. We had a dream about bringing peace, and we found a possibility.” (U Kyaw Soe Hlaing in “Making Peace in their Own Words. People of Myanmar’s Peace Process”, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, 2015).
Dream about peace and when encountering a possibility, take it. But I hope to never stop thinking and asking myself in a joint effort with the individuals and communities involved, what kind of change are we trying to promote, is it feasible, what’s the time-frame, sequencing and priorities; what the unintended effects would be; what tools are at hand; and ultimately, how peace looks like.
Pamela Huerta Uribe, Mexico
Rotary Peace Fellow- Class 20