Power of Goodness

Power of Goodness Trainings in Chechnya

By Chris Hunter and Rustam Musaev

 Power of Goodness training in School No.9, Grozny, August 2020, photo by Seda

In August and early September, Rustam conducted four ‘Power of Goodness’ trainings with teachers at Middle School No.9 in Grozny. During the first class, Rustam presented the ‘Power of Goodness’ project, including its history and activities in different parts of the world. At each training we read and analyzed a story, drawing on the teachers’ manual which was shared with all the teachers present for them to use in the classroom together with the stories. The participants experienced deeply everything that was described in each of the stories, the atmosphere in the room was at times so emotional that many couldn’t hold back tears. This is largely down to the fact that all participants of the trainings have been witnesses to military actions that took place in our republic Chechnya and the stories brought this home to everyone. The stories help us to see that we are not alone in experiencing the horrors of armed conflict and loss.

Having understood and processed everything that happened after reading the story, we spent five minutes grounding ourselves with breathing exercises and play. Over the past decade, Peacebuilding UK and our partners in Chechnya have conducted trainings for over 1800 teachers in the North Caucasus region of southern Russia. Each teacher received a book of Power of Goodness stories in Russian, Chechen and English and the teachers’ manual that our team created to guide the teachers in using the stories with children in the classroom.

 Rustam holds up Power of Goodness book at Power of Goodness training in School No.9, Grozny, August 2020. Photo by Seda.

One of the teachers, Diana described how much she liked the story “Jelly Beans”. Using this story it is possible to build friendly relationships between the students and introduce them to the cultures of other peoples, opening up discussions on accepting people of different races and religions, especially important in a mono-ethnic culture as contemporary Chechnya. Teachers shared their impressions on how they would use the book ‘Power of Goodness’ in the classroom.

As Anna described, this book and training manual will allow her to spend tutor group periods with her students on various topics without any problems with preparation. Sveta talked about how easy this book is to work with, the stories so interesting and inspiring for all readers and listeners. She liked the method which Rustam shared with the group – role play of a scene from the story, which helps students to feel every moment and experience it themselves.

Four more trainings are planned for the group in the second half of September.