Planting Seeds

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David Smith

This morning I attended a Global Peacebuilding Workshop with my students in the Community College Initiative Program. This is the second year that I have organized the workshop and I’m hoping to make it an annual event. Lucky for me, I don’t have to do much except coordinate dates with an amazing guy named David Smith, who is an expert in the field, and bring a few supplies and some snacks. This year we co-sponsored the event with the Honors Club, so I didn’t even have to bring the snacks. I’m getting really good at this. 🙂

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There were about 33 students at the workshop from 15 different countries. The first half was a panel discussion and Q & A with three young professionals who work in the field. The second half was more interactive. There was a small group exercise at the end where the students were divided by countries or regions and were given a task to design a product or service that serves to promote peace in their communities. It was fun and interesting to hear what they came up with. Most of them had something that centered around education–educating children to keep them off the streets, vocational skills for youth and adults in war torn areas, job training for women and girls.

This may seem trivial to some, but imagine having young men and women from China, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh working together to “Unite Kashmir” by creating opportunities for business, training women to become entrepreneurs,  and promoting tourism to this beautiful region. In this three hour workshop seeds of mutual understanding and respect were planted. My hope is that what they learn here takes root and grows. Perhaps this is the generation who can find common ground on which to build peace in this long disputed region.

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Students from China, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh present on their project to Unite Kashmir
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Students from Yemen present “Teach Me How to Fish” to help those who lost hope, because of the war, to make a healthy living.
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Students from Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Peru, and Turkey created a “Skills for Peace” organization to provide arts and vocational training to help reintegrate child soldiers or inmates back into society.
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Students from South Africa, Ghana, and Cote d’Ivoire celebrate the food, sports, music, and fashion that they share and in a project called Roots.
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Students from Indonesia present on educating children to keep them off the streets.
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