By Hayley Hathaway
We are saying teary goodbyes at Peace Place Pati in Central Java, Indonesia. Almost all of the 34 participants of the FPT-Asia West Pacific’s fourth International Peace Training are now back in their communities or on the road after ten days of serious learning and serious playing. It feels like a loss to break up our group after doing so much powerful work together.
Our training began with a three-day Alternatives to Violence Project basic workshop led by the local team. Teachers, activists, religious leaders, and parents came from across Indonesia, many traveling farther than they had ever gone before. They were visibly and positively impacted by the training, which gave us real tools to live more non-violently in a creative and unusual way–no sitting in desks and taking notes for us!
The next day we worked with Nadine on trauma healing and resiliency, using play, compassionate listening and companionship, and art to work through difficult experiences and share them with our peers. International participants from the US, Anne Dusseau and Renee Bove led us through an introduction to transformative mediation. Our brains worked hard to reshape how we communicate with others when our needs aren’t being met.
On the last day, we split into groups: some of us practiced mediation while others joined more teachers to learn about childhood development using the practices developed at Joglo Preschool, which is part of Peace Place.
The three different parts of the training all supported and built on each other and I can confidently say that this created a truly memorable and impacting experience for all of us.
This training stands out as especially important for a few reasons:
– It connected people who are very isolated or feel isolated. Throughout the week I heard surprise in participant’s voices as they learned about the situations–both about struggles and resistance–in other communities. Knowing that others in Indonesia and around the world are facing similar issues and are working for peace and justice is powerful and strengthening.
– It also transcended possible points of conflict: different languages, countries, religions, ages.
– We gained insight into our core selves. We were reminded that peace begins within ourselves and then in our closest relationships. Most participants were parents and many were teachers.
– We laughed and smiled and felt respite from the weight of our problems.
– We experienced how quickly community can be built when there is intentionality and it was beautiful!
– We planted lots of seeds of peace and are spreading them right now as we travel home to our communities and share our stories and our experiences and begin to build new networks.
Subhash and Nari from Nepal and I are staying a few more days alongside Nadine to continue to learn about Nanik and Petrus’ work. We will be visiting schools and connecting with land rights advocates.
I have more to share, including quotes and stories from participants, and lots of photos, so check in soon and wish me luck on my long flight back to the US.