Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
I am in Bangkok, the capital city of majestic and wonderful Thailand. The buzzing city indeed! A city, which rocks with over 20 million tourists visit annually! Plenty of diversity! Amazing smiles! A city with great minds and approaches! One approach I admired a bit is Sabai Sabai – taking things slowly but with confidence! This reminds me to relax and see. I happened to relax a bit. I am still relaxing though with learning! A double dozes of beauty indeed! Fortunately, I see with two eyes! Yes, two eyes! Indeed!
I look back with two eyes. One of my eyes is of gratitude. The other eye has to pick lessons in life. Because ‘the greatest mistake in life is the lesson not learnt’ so said, Albert Einstein. It looks like my sense of gratitude has been geared into higher cruising at an amazing but wonderful speed. Thanks to the lectures thus far. Thanks to Dr. Sombat with his ‘self-care’ lessons. Thanks to Michael Fryer and Ellen Maynes in the first module. They introduced ‘concepts, values of peace and conflict studies’. I can confidently claim that I am becoming more aware of myself than before. And this is critically important for a peace builder like me.
I didn’t know that my late father too, Abisha T. Chichaya, is my role model. He has impacted me in such a way that I wish I can tell him. Values of active and inclusive participation, creating space for dialogue, and respect. He emphasized ‘the Diamond Rule’ and not just ‘the Golden Rule’. In the former, he used to say, understand the other so that you can effectively communicate and connect through the heart. Not just through the mind! So as I look back with my two eyes, I am compelled just but to be grateful. I cannot afford to mention a beautiful quote from another wonderful fellow, Nino, all the way from Georgia. Whilst we were enjoying our lunch at Park Food, she said, ‘My life began to be transformed from the moment I start to be grateful’. I heard her very loud and clear! As for now, I am going to just focus on being grateful because I am not a witch. I don’t even accompany those witches.
I look back with gratitude because it is right, proper, good, and human. There is a Zimbabwean Shona proverb, which says, munhu anoshoora muroyi, kana asingaroyi, anoaperekedza aroyi acho. The literal meaning is that an ungrateful person is either a witch if not then, that person accompanies witches to witch. I am neither a witch nor the later. I am grateful.
I have relatively gained the Thai way of meditating. It involves active relaxation and taking several long breaths, approaching and seeing things soberly, life, issues and everything slowly and positively. I am compelled to just but acknowledge, accept and appreciate the beauty and blessing of life in the past, now and ahead. It will be utter injustice to forget the gifts, support, love, kindness and amazing friendship shared by my wife, Chido, Rotarians, Chula Rotary Peace Centre staff, sponsoring Rotary club, Host Counselor (Dr. PDG Chairat S), my host co-counselor (Aum Nattakan), my Chula class 22 mates.
Is that enough? I don’t think so. I guess my life experiences from Southern Africa to Eastern Africa, in the Great Lakes Region of Africa, as a man, as a father, husband, and humanitarian and development worker – reminds me to look back with gratitude. I have several privileges, which I think if someone wants to learn more, that one has to buy me a cup of coffee. Because the list is long! I am grateful! But there are also many lessons, which I see within fellowship. The fact that I am a man, a husband, leader and a humanitarian and development worker, I have learnt that I have a responsibility. It is a huge, challenging and exciting responsibility indeed. Having being reminded and challenged by the classes so far, there is something I can and should do to contribute towards gender equity in this world but first and foremost starting with where I am.
Allow me to show you a few things around me for just being in Thailand. Well, chitsva chiri murutsoka (new things are in traveling)! It’s my first time to be in Thailand, to be outside Africa (fortunately, not as a migrant, but as a fellow). It’s my first time to eat crabs, first time to eat seafood; rest and study; It’s my first time to be in a country true to their deep emotions – moaning their late King, whom I have learnt is a ‘servant leader’. It’s my first time to meet someone from Macedonia too! It’s my first time to realize the beauty and blessing of my name: ‘Hope’! It’s famous among these 24 Fellows of Class 22 from 17 different countries. Some people in the past have expanded it saying: ‘Hope of South Sudan’, ‘Hope of Africa’, ‘Hope of Zimbabwe’, ‘Hope of the World’.
“Hope, you have such wonderful name! “You should write something about it”, said one fast-spoken talented fellow. I can only say, ‘wow’ and ‘Kalitoo’! Yeah, several people always ask me what does ‘kalitooo’ mean? I used to think it is Italian until one Italian man in South Sudan told me one day that there is no such a word in Italian. Well, I can safely claim that it means something wonderful, beautiful, great, and amazingly splendid! Quite creative indeed! As you can see, well. When I look back, despite challenges, I see that life is kalitoo! And so, I am grateful that I see myself not as a witch. Although I sometimes feel that it’s too late to appreciate those who gave me this name, I am always compelled to be grateful anyway. With all that, what do you expect me to do or say now ooooh? Well, I can just but look back with my two eyes. However, at the mean time allow me to stop here but with my one eye glittering with clear floods of gratitude ready to cascade down my delicate cheeks. Because I see!
Hope Tichaenzana Chichaya – Zimbabwe
Rotary Peace Fellow – Class 22