Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
The first 3 weeks of this fellowship have a roller-coaster of new friends, new concepts, new experiences, new food, and definitely a few new headaches trying to ascertain the multitude of differing contexts and projects all twenty four peace fellows will be working on in the coming two months. While I came here with the keen expectation to soak up as much knowledge as I could regarding theoretical concepts and practical application in peacebuilding and conflict resolution, I have discovered that this fellowship goes much deeper than delving into peacebuilding ‘out there’, but also necessitates a focus on peacebuilding inside each and every one of us.
Both peace and conflict begin and end with ourselves.
Understanding one another is actually quite a difficult feat in this multi-cultural world. No longer are we all part of one culture, one country, or one continent. Instead the world, our lives, have become a cultural thick rich nourishing soup of languages, traditions, stories, and norms. I find myself intrigued by concepts we are studying on this fellowship that can immediately be applied in our everyday lives. How a person naturally communicates may be completely in opposition to another person’s natural way of communicating. Neither is right, neither is wrong.
How we perceive one another, and how we presume details about one another, can be all too rash, and all too damaging. As easy as it is for two persons to fall into an argument regarding their own perceptions, it is as easy for whole nations to fall into war regarding these same and simple perceptions. Peace begins within each of us, within our ability to look beyond differences in communication, culture, perceptions and presumptions. Culture and communication is constantly evolving. Diversity is our strength. Respect is our language.
Michelle Healy – Ireland
Rotary Peace Fellow – Class 22