Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
Living in Thailand for 6 weeks made me feel at home. First of all, the country has my name: Thaisland. I realized this at the day I arrived at the Don Muang airport, on Friday afternoon. My host counselor picked me up there with a warm welcome. It was as hot as the summer in Rio de Janeiro and on the way to the CUI House it started to rain. Summer rain! The rain was so strong that the streets were flooded. At the same time I thought I am at home. We walked around the streets and I saw many street food vendors. We bought some fruits and I came back home.
During the first weeks in class we discussed about stereotypes that we have around the globe and we shared about Thailand. I remember that James, a Fellow from Kenya said about his concern that Thais eat scorpions and frogs. This is a simple example.
A stereotype is a belief about an individual based on the real or imagined characteristics of a group to which that individual belongs, which can lead us to judge an individual or group negatively. The problem around stereotypes is that it can rob people of dignity. It makes our recognition of our equality difficult. It emphasizes how we are different rather than how we are similar.
Author “Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie” uses the phrase “single stories” to describe the overly simplistic and sometimes false perceptions we form about individuals, groups, or countries. Her novels and short stories complicate the single stories many people believe about Nigeria, the country where she is from. During the Religion, Identity and Dialogue class with teacher Khin Khin from Myanmar, we simulated one role play related to religion, race and discrimination.
Tourism is a tool to have a better understanding about history and culture and breake stereotypes. “We are suffering from economic inequalities, education deficits, technological deficits. But the most critical of all deficits is the one of tolerance and understanding and respect between people” UN World Tourism Organization Secretary-General Taleb Rifai said recently.
We had an opportunity to listen to them and accompanied fishers out to the sea and observe the traditional way of fishing. They said that the new generation is losing interest in traditional forms of fishing and income is also meager. In Brazil we developed community based tourism as a way to create dialogue between communities, tourists and society. It is a way to preserve their own culture and history and generate income.
In the north of Thailand, in Chiang Mai, I also visited a Karen community, a displaced community from Myanmar (Burma) that tourism can also be a tool to have a better understanding about communities and human rights.
Peace Tourism involves visits to places, at home or abroad, which are significant because of their association with such notions as peacemaking, peaceful conflict resolution, resistance to war, prevention of war, nonviolence and reconciliation. Connecting territories through peace tourism can be a wonderful way to positive peace around the globe.
Thais Rosa Pinheiro – Brazil
Rotary Peace Fellow – Class 27