Well, I surely had many expectations before arriving at Chulalongkorn University and Rotary Peace Center. But, I have to say, one of those certainly was not to cry, cry a lot.
But cried I have. I mean, nearly every day.
I have been crying for world’s cruelty, beauty, people’s resilience, and for happiness. I have been shedding a tear because of being overwhelmed, tired, impressed, and shocked. Some days I have been weeping for respect or frustration.
Luckily I was able to find plenty of information online that claims that crying is actually good for you. Apparently, crying means that you are strong as it takes strength to show vulnerability. In addition, crying allows you to celebrate the positive and helps to let go of the negative things. Crying will release stress, process mixed feelings, make us feel better, and foster creative thinking.
Well, during Week 9 our speaker Mr. Miki Jacevic really pushed me to demonstrate my strength through tears. Somehow he managed to bring tears to my eyes every day, five days in a row. The week is consisted of such topics as Capacity Building in Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution, Transitional Justice and Evaluation of Peace Programs. Saying that the week was an interesting one is indeed an understatement.
If you want to be touched by impressive people and organisations, check out these bullet points of the past week. I guarantee your time won’t be wasted:
- The most emotional moment of the week (if not the whole course) was watching a video of Rwandan reconciliation called In the Tall Grass. This influential one hour story presents “Rwanda’s search for redemption as the country sits down to reckon with the genocide using a network of traditional community courts called gacaca.”
- It was affecting to learn of the genocide that took place in the heart of Europe, in Bosnia. Miki Jacevic told us how it was to be a young man in Sarajevo; which for 1425 days (from 1992 to 1996) suffered the longest siege of a capital city in the history of modern warfare.
- Also, I had tears in my eyes when we worked in small groups for Experiential Learning -day. Our group dealt with sexual harassment. The dynamic of the team work was great, people were committed in sharing their own experiences and educate the other Fellows on this important matter. I cannot enough praise how meaningful part of my learning has been with this group of excellent fellows. I wrote earlier a short blog about the group on LinkedIn.
- Mr. Jacevic shared a lot about his beloved wife’s humbling work in Guatemala. Señora Eva Contreras Morales’ work as a human rights activist – since she was a 14-year-old teenager – is really touching. And so was, by the way, Jacevic’s way of talking about her. He kept telling stories of her with deep tenderness and pride in his voice.
- One day we were introduced with The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa. We watched a touching film that goes through the destiny of the Gugulethu seven and the communication between victims’ families and perpetrators.
In addition, there are (at least) three bonus links I need to share when talking about getting emotional during this course:
- In Chiang Mai, we had an honor to have a lecture by Mrs. Charm Tong from The Shan Human Rights Foundation. She gave us an opportunity to learn on the “Thousand Island” area along the Pang River. We watched a film called Drowning A Thousand Islands, that presents the plans to build a giant dam in southern Shan State and the resistance that local people have demonstrated against it.
- One of the peace fellows has spent two months on a Greek island called Lesvos during the refugee crises 2015. He presented us with a video called Ode to Lesvos. This short film is an inspiring story of a few remarkable heroes on the Island of Lesvos who helped almost half a million refugees in 2015.
- And as a highly inspiring note, the last video I want to share is called The success of nonviolent civil resistance by Erica Chenoweth. In this TED-talk Chenoweth tells that campaigns of nonviolent civil resistance are actually twice as successful as violent campaigns.
There are so many reasons to cry, both positive and negative. And one thing is for sure – having a good cry here and there can help us to face the world more stronger and resilient than before.
Jaana Hirsikangas – Finland
Rotary Pace Fellow – Class 26