Asia West Pacific – July 8-12, 2019

Peace is the Goal, Nonviolence is the Way

Reflection on the Leadership Empowerment Training for Interfaith Youth at Peace Place

By Neneng Hanifah Maryam, psychology student, Yogyakarta State Islamic University

Thank you to the Peace Place team, Petrus, Nanik, Kins, Bungsu and Wiwit, for the opportunity, and also to Ruwaidah for introducing me to this training, as well as to all the colleagues I met in this workshop.

Creating Cultures of Peace Training starts with Empowerment Training to build a peaceful life. We met for five days from 8-12 July 2019 at Peace Place Pati. As the name suggests, Peace Place is truly peaceful. Different backgrounds, experiences and religions unite in this place without domination from any part of the group.

I thought creating a peaceful life with the wide range of diversity that exists in Indonesia was merely talk or utopia. But five days in Pati eroded my utopian assumption regarding peace. I am optimistic now, because I realize we can create a peaceful culture. Training in creating cultures of peace offers simple, concrete steps we can implement. Moreover, communication established outside the training is not just a formality as a participant, but rather like a brotherhood or sisterhood to invite us to work together over time.

This training had ten sessions, each of which had its own theme with sub-activities. I’ll share my reflections below on a few. The memory that stayed with me is how enthusiastic my friends were at the training. Their cheerful faces were the proof. For me, this shows how ‘building a peaceful life’ will be realized more easily because the many people who join in consciously want to do it.

Affirmation Names. For me, the way we did it made it easy to remember everyone’s name and gave a positive impression of myself, which woke up my confidence, little by little, but immediately. I chose Nice Neneng as my affirmation name. Oh, actually I was embarrassed, but it was okay! I’d be “nice” for you. Ha ha.

Blanket Game. I found it quite difficult to remember the names of my friends when faced with surprises. I also felt quite anxious, afraid and even depressed that my friend in front of me would say my name first. On the other hand, eventually I became able to calm myself and remember well. I also became aware that someone I faced previously may appear again, so I have to keep remember their names calmly. From this activity I learned that in a state of calm we are indeed better able to think and remember.

Cooperative Agreement. At the beginning of the activity, a joint agreement was made and confirmed. This made us fully awareness of what we wanted during our time together, so that we did not feel compelled to do or avoid anything during the activities. Collective agreements were also very effective in aligning common goals at the beginning. There were a number of agreements that I continue to practice, particularly “to speak simply and honestly, without fear of mistakes.” I thought speaking briefly would reduced the credibility of the information, but in fact it makes it easier for others to understand. I’m also still practicing affirming the good in myself and others, not to over or under estimate the goodness of others or to humiliate anyone, but to convey our virtues as they are.

Drawing of Core Self. This activity made me realize how easy it is to do something when one feels secure, that is, when one truly feels like oneself. When I feel safe and worthy, I’m able to optimize and identify what I have beyond my ability. The three good words that appear in the image of conscience are the foundation when I feel helpless.

Stories of Violence and Nonviolence. This activity helped me identify how the violence occurred, as well as the effects that arose both for myself and others. Then it is wise to decide what path should be taken to address the problem. I will apply this activity and discuss it with my colleagues in school, and parents when interacting with children.

Transforming Power. Conveying the reason each time choosing one of the strengths of change, increasingly convinced me to do the Transforming Power. Moreover, I also feel more confident to share the importance of points from the power of change by exploring the reasons for each person when they choose the Transforming Power.

I-Messages and Empathy. Many times, I was amazed by these two activities. The concrete framework of I message makes it easier for me to identify the problems experienced with others to what I really need. This activity made me more aware that everyone has the ability to solve their own problems. Likewise with Empathy activities, I sometimes feel that I know what others feel and must know what they should do. But after getting the Empathy material, I realized that I had to be more careful in responding to or responding to other people’s problems without labeling or even advice that was not needed. The ability to be a good companion is also highly trained in this session, especially to listen well.

Commitment to Living Peace without Violence. I made three concrete commitments as possible during the training. Then I said “I will do what I have agreed to.”

Remembering. Recollection habits are one way to train my sensitivity to identify things. I implemented the Remembering activity in making my daily journal. There was one additional activity on the third day which for me was related to an agreement to practice safeguarding everyone, society and nature, namely Permaculture. This activity made me realize that all creatures including the earth have the right to experience their continuation well, including garbage. I am here also practicing how to use as needed and share the rest fairly, especially in nature, one of which is by using organic ingredients in everyday life and then storing the waste to be used as compost.

I am grateful to get info regarding this training from my good colleague Ruwaidah, long before I attended the training in early July. Because of that, I was quite clear about what I was doing for this training. I am very grateful when the training lasts for five consecutive days. This training is not just campaigning for the importance of living peacefully without violence, more than that giving concrete steps that so far not many people are sensitive to how to make it happen. And that is part of the answer to the question “Why is the peace we all want so difficult to create”.


Yogyakarta, July 2019

Neneng Hanifah Maryam, from Subang, West Java. Currently I am still in the process of completing Psychology studies at Yogyakarta State Islamic University which is also active in mentoring Children in the City’s Poor Community in Yogyakarta through the Gajahwong School.