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Online Toolkit

Part 1


A new way of thinking about peace is important today. The power of our own understanding and our views on peace both as a condition and a value cannot be underestimated, because it is through these perspectives that our feelings and actions are shaped, and impact how we live and relate with others.[1]

Today, in order to understand the global problems we face, and find sustainable ways to address them, we need to be equipped with the necessary knowledge, skills, and attitudes that will guide us and empower us (and others!) to become agents of peace in our own ways. Those of us who have reached an understanding of how peace can be applied in our daily lives (through our interactions with our environment and our communities) are needed to inspire yet more people within our spheres of influence.


Introduction

Peace lies in our hands

Peace is related to how we live everyday – in the way we treat ourselves and others.

For many people, peace may seem an elusive and distant goal that is hard to imagine, and even harder to achieve. When we talk about peace we tend to think of it as something that may exist in a future world, that has little to do with our day-to-day realities.

The young people who developed this Peace Bag agree that peace is a process as well as an objective that can be integrated into our daily lives, regardless of cultural context or background. Peace is not something to be achieved by future generations, it is something that begins in our personal lives and the interactions we have with others.


How can we translate peace in our work as young people (with other young people)?

Peace education is a crucial aspect in changing our perceptions, attitudes and behaviours. It uses a holistic learning process that addresses the cognitive (being aware), affective (being concerned) and active (taking practical action) dimensions of the learner.[2] It seeks to transform the present human condition by changing social structures, eliminating social injustice, and rejecting violence.[3]

Through non-formal education initiatives, we can think of a wide range of opportunities to integrate peace education activities aimed at garnering the interest of young people. The most basic form of this is allowing young people to relate peace within their fields of interests – for example, how peace is related to human rights, gender or sustainable development. Another practical example is by exploring the role of conflict in youth work, and the different alternatives we have in addressing them. This will enable youth participants to realise that they have a role in building peace within their communities, whether it is through transforming their conflicts creatively, continuing their work with refugees and migrants, or simply by being responsible consumers.


... how about intercultural dialogue?

Diversity is another important aspect to consider when talking about peace. Differences (between people and cultures) have often been used as an excuse for our own failure to co-exist peacefully with one another. At other times, it is used as an excuse for the escalation of conflict, to the extent of justifying violence and war. In fact, many of the primary reasons behind violent conflicts of the past have had to do with failing to find alternative ways to address our differences. Killing, bombing, and wars were considered an "easy way out", but in fact they only foster deep hatred that lasts for generations. For some people, the effects of these wars are still felt – making it difficult to reconcile diversity in society even today.

To avoid further deterioration of our relationships due to differences between one another, intercultural dialogue is necessary. Openness in dialogue plays a crucial role in increasing mutual understanding, and eliminating our prejudices toward others. Experiential learning through non-formal education has become a useful tool in helping us to experience different realities aside from our own – and therefore allow us to put ourselves in the shoes of others. The fact that youth work is participative and inclusive already gives us space to engage in dialogue. Some ideas for integrating intercultural dialogue into youth work include: celebrating an "intercultural night" to allow participants to share and learn from each others' cultures; organising an "intercultural café" session to allow participants to discuss relevant issues related to culture according to their own interests; or by conducting simulation activities with intercultural relevance (you will find some practical activities in Part 5 of this toolkit!)


Mainstreaming – what is this?
Mainstreaming peacebuilding is about moving beyond the notion that it is necessary only in areas of conflict. It is about recognizing that preventing violent conflict, respecting human rights and building peace is the business of everyone – not just the UN, our governments, or NGOs alone. Mainstreaming peace education in youth work is a strategic first step, helping to build and harness the collective energies of young people towards peace and everything related to it - human rights, gender equality, diversity, conflict transformation, and more.

Mainstreaming intercultural dialogue is about integrating dialogue beyond the participation of only leaders coming from different cultural backgrounds. It is about valuing diversity as a resource and allowing us to understand our similarities and differences. Since this is something we all face, dialogue should be promoted to all – adults, young people and children alike.

Mainstreaming is about reaching and teaching everyone. It also means integrating these themes in different aspects of our work with young people!

Young people are crucial participants in building a culture of peace as they are powerful agents of change. Young people are not just the FUTURE but the PRESENT, and they have a role in building a better future for all. Nowadays, youth movements and institutions around the world face the ever-growing complexity and diversity of youth work. There is a need to consolidate and synchronize youth action in order to address the different intercultural and socio-cultural issues that the EuroMed region faces. Youth mobility and increased youth participation lead to better learning opportunities for peace and intercultural education.

Strengthening the peace and intercultural dimensions in youth initiatives is one way of establishing a long term platform of co-operation within the dynamic network of young people engaged in peace building in the EuroMed region – both on the local and global level.


Why Peace Bag?
A bag is a container you can carry around, add things to and take things from. This is exactly what this toolkit is all about! It is a handy tool that contains the necessary training materials you will need.
Adapt it and apply it in your local context!



About the Peace Bag

The project

Peace Bag for EuroMed Youth is a long-term project partnership of 18 organisations from 14 countries in the EuroMed region. It is coordinated by the Fundació Catalunya Voluntària, and co-financed by the 18 organisations of the partnership and the Anna Lindh Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures.

The Peace Bag project is a process of both theory and practice, divided into three phases. First was a training phase on peace and intercultural dialogue, and the first writing workshop where the main contents of this toolkit were born. The second phase was a 4-month local and international implementation of some of the contents of this toolkit, which also continued for another 4 months after the evaluation phase. Lastly, the third phase was the network meeting and evaluation of the project – where we also evaluated the developments of this toolkit. The result of these 3 phases is this publication – the Peace Bag for EuroMed Youth toolkit!


The partnership

The partnership consists of youth-led and youth-serving organisations. We are a diverse group of organisations, dealing with different issues and fields of work related to young people. We have come together to pursue a common vision of peace and intercultural understanding in the EuroMed region through our day-to-day work with young people. Our members come from different cultures and religions, and our local experiences are invaluable as we began to explore ideas on how to work for a culture of peace in the EuroMed.


The publication

This toolkit is the product of our collective dialogue that created shared understandings of concepts such as peace, conflict, intercultural dialogue, nonviolence and diversity. This is the foundation for the co-operative work, which has created a strong partnership between 18 organisations involved in this project. With this toolkit, we hope to support and encourage long-term co-operation among young people working to further the culture of peace in the EuroMed.

As you go through the toolkit, you will meet all partners of the project, get to know their work, hear their success stories and learn about their experiences in peace education and intercultural dialogue, including the tools and methods they use in their own contexts.



Background

The idea of this toolkit was born in 2009, after a "Peace Bag" training course held in Ukraine, where the idea of coming up with a toolkit dedicated to help organizations "mainstream" peace education was developed. The goal was to create a manual on how youth organisations can conduct peace education activities and build a network of peace-builders who "walk their talk".


A Participatory Process

Writing this toolkit was a process of theory and practice – it addresses various interrelated abstract concepts that can be applied to a variety of local situations. It is innovative because it brings together organisations working in different fields, allowing it to become a platform for intercultural dialogue built by stakeholders who believe that their specific work compliments their shared vision of peace.


A Process of Local and International Implementation

This is also the product of a series of local and international implementation, done by partner organisations within an 8-month period. Contents of this book have been implemented and re-implemented by partners in their communities, through their local projects and activities. They have also been evaluated based on their effectiveness, impact, utility and adaptability. It is safe to say that much of the contents of this toolkit have been experienced by at least one of the partner organisations. What you will find here are contributions from the partnership – sharing about their work related to peace education, intercultural dialogue, and tools and models used.



How to use this toolkit

  • Part 1,  which you are reading now, introduces you to the Peace Bag - the project, the partnership and the publication itself.

  • Part 2  will introduce you to the EuroMed, the context where this toolkit was implemented. It gives you a background about the EuroMed partnership and its history, including youth demographics and youth policies in the region.

  • Part 3  features all 18 participating organisations with some case studies about their feature projects and good practices related to peace education and intercultural dialogue. You will see for yourself how our organisations are working on the themes of the project in their own unique ways. This section also provides you with a short background of each participating country – their culture and the current situation of their young people.

  • Part 4  is a collection of basic concepts, working models and tools necessary to further understand the themes of the publication. You will find similarities and differences as you go along, which shows you how adaptable the tools can be to a specific context.

    After learning about the basic concepts, you may be left with some questions about how to use the toolkit in your own community. The follow-up section addresses how you can implement a project through a partnership, and how you can advocate and campaign for peace and intercultural dialogue in your community.

  • Part 5  is a compilation of interesting and fun activities that will help you put the lessons into practical learning sessions.

  • At the end of the toolkit you will find a glossary of terms for any concept which may require definition, as well as a list of references and other resources.

We hope that the Peace Bag will be useful in a wide range of settings. It contains relevant materials that can be used by youth workers, community leaders, teachers, trainers, or any group of young people who wish to come together to work for peace and intercultural dialogue through non-formal education.

The activities you will find in this toolkit require little material or resources and can be used anywhere the youth are engaged in. They are tailored to be simple and practical. We encourage you to use the resources here and to adapt them to your needs!



Learning by experience!

It's not just what you do, but the way that you do it.
COMPASS, Council of Europe

Education is transformative. When done in non-formal education settings, this transformative aspect is reinforced through the experience of young people themselves. In this process, young people reflect on their own experience of the activities, and then have the opportunity to translate their learning into simple but effective actions. This is learning by experience!

Young people love to share and listen to each others' real life experiences. Their openness is crucial in this process. They learn best from activities where there is an obvious link between the subject matter and a real problem, and where they are then able to implement what they have learned. They react against learning that seems distant from reality (learning that is "all theory and general principles"), and prefer learning that is action based.

In a learning process, it is always best to start from people's knowledge, opinions and experiences. Building on these, we can encourage young people to search for new ideas, discoveries and experiences together – participating while contributing to discussions.

Knowing about concepts such as peace education, intercultural dialogue and other concepts you will find in this book is important, but it is not sufficient. Those with no direct experience of discrimination may think that the issue is of no concern to them. Through experiential learning, young people are given a far deeper understanding about prejudice and discrimination, by allowing them to put themselves into the shoes of others (through a simulation exercise, for example).


Experiential Learning

Peace education uses a methodology of experiential learning based on a learning cycle with five phases:
  • Phase1 Experiencing (activity, "doing")
  • Phase2 Reporting (sharing reactions and observations about what happened)
  • Phase3 Reflecting (discussing patterns and dynamics in order to gain insights into the experience)
  • Phase4 Generalising (discussing patterns and how what people have learnt relates to the "real world")
  • Phase5 Applying (using what they have learnt, changing old behaviours)
Source: COMPASS. Manual on Human Rights Education with Young People (page 40)

In the final phase people explore practical actions that might address the issue in question. It is crucial that people find real opportunities for involvement. This is not only a logical outcome of the learning process, but a significant means of reinforcing new knowledge, skills and attitudes which form the basis for the next round of the cycle.[4]

Peace Bag Modules as tools for experiential learning
The modules in Part 5 of this toolkit require active participation and involvement of young people so that they gain an experience through which they can learn. Although these games are usually "fun", do not forget their learning purpose!

After doing an activity, it is essential to follow through with a debriefing and evaluation to enable people to reflect on what happened during the exercise (phase 2), to evaluate their experience (phases 3 & 4) and to go on to decide what to do next (phase 5). In this way they come back to phase 1 of the next cycle in the learning process.

The activities encourage cohesiveness and a sense of group identity and solidarity. They offer a framework and structure to group experiences which will allow you to work within your own and the young peoples' experience and competencies. When carefully facilitated, activities are an effective method of learning.

Facilitation
A facilitator is someone who guides young people to discover their knowledge and learn from the experience of the activity. A facilitator assists young people in the process of exploring their own learning potential. The activities in this toolkit require facilitators to be conscientious of the different inter-related topics related to the activities.

Tips for Facilitators
Try to bring new experiences into an activity. Make games, role-plays and teambuilding activities challenging enough to get young people to get out of the box, and engaging in a more active way.

Allow young people to think critically over an activity – to review and reflect on what has happened and what they have learned.

Try to make learning easy by organising things in a model or theory. Most of the time, things are understood better when they are explained coherently and with structure. Make the ideas interesting enough to be understood.

Remember: The greatest resource of peace and intercultural dialogue are the people themselves, for it is through them that peaceful relationships and structures are created. Educating people about peace and intercultural dialogue is an effective way of preventing violence, between and within people and cultures, and a significant strategy in achieving peaceful co-existence.

This toolkit is your guide toward mainstreaming peace education and intercultural dialogue in the work that you do. We hope that it will give you many opportunities to impart the ideas in this publication, and give you practical ideas for action that will help you engage other young people toward this cause.

Most of all, we hope that this compilation of tools from our intercultural team will inspire you in further promoting diversity in youth work.

Enjoy reading!