YES alumni in India organized and facilitated a series of peace-building workshops across 6 cities in India: Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Delhi, Indore, Kolkata and Gandinhagar. The half-day workshops engaged approximately 1000 students, ages 14-16, in discussions and interactive sesssions on core peacebuilding concepts such as empathy, respect, conflict transformation, youth as peace advocates, community engagement and global citizenship. In the age of increasing cultural transitions observed across the globe, the workshops highlighted how youth can take a lead role to promote harmony in their community. The workshops were conducted in partnership with volunteers from Youth for Peace International, an organization that works with youth on peace education and civic engagement.
Akhilesh Jhawar (YES ’18) from Kolkata shared, “The Voice of Peace workshops helped me understand the root concepts and causes of conflicts and how to resolve them. The workshops allowed the students to interact with the facilitators as well as themselves. The alumni, I and two others, spoke about our own YES exchange experience and why we need more such experiences to happen across the globe in order to create a more peaceful world. I got the opportunity to speak with the audience and educate them about the joy of volunteering and community service and why it is much needed for a more peaceful world. It gives me great pleasure to know that I have been able to motivate at least some of the students to take part in social service activities.”
Participants learned the importance of skills such as active listening and empathy in conflict resolution and put them into practice during role-playing activities. YES alumni shared the power of intercultural friendship and understanding they gained from their own U.S. exchange experience, and the importance of volunteerism. After the workshops, alumni and participants conducted local community service activities such as tree-planting and street clean-ups. YES Alumni from neighboring cities also joined discussions on alumni engagement. The workshops really brought the YES alumni across India into a common platform.
One of the student participants of class XII expressed, “I am amazed to know peace was so simple yet impactful, and even I can be an advocate of active peace building.”
“To be a part of the Peace workshop was an amazing opportunity which was all about learning and reflecting, be it about peace or conflicts or violence. The activities that were conducted not only taught the students but also the alumni that talking and understanding the other person creates friendships, solves misunderstandings and conflicts”, said Alvira Nishat (YES ’19).