Aaghaz-e-Dosti’s 5th Peace Building Workshop in Youth Tech Hub Centre, Delhi
Keeping up with the tradition of promoting peace and understanding between the common people of India and Pakistan, Aaghaz-e-Dosti conducts peace building workshops in schools, colleges and alternative learning spaces in India and Pakistan.
Peace building has become integral in order to sustain the society in the new world order. Inter country relations have become dynamic and we need to develop some essential skills to adapt with this dynamism. Some of these skills are assertiveness, active listening, non-violent resistance, empathy, open-mindedness, self awareness etc. Traditional education may not be able to provide such skills. We aimed to initiate this skill development process at the grass roots. The future of our country lies with our youth; we need to invest deeply in them if we dream of a stable and harmonious society. The youth bring more advanced cognitive capabilities to conflict analysis and skill-building, seek deeper social connections outside their family networks, and are therefore capable of greater responsibility and leadership roles. If pursued correctly, they also gain a sense of agency, leadership, and can develop a lasting commitment to building a better society.
With this vision, Aaghaz-e-Dosti conducted its fifth workshop on 18th September 2016 at the Youth Tech Hub, Rajasthan Colony branch. This workshop was co-ordinated by Neelam Jajoriya from Youth Tech hub.
Conveners of Aaghaz-e-Dosti, Ravi Nitesh and Devika Mittal conducted the workshops along with members of the Delhi chapter Madhulika Narasimhan and Yashika Pahwa. The workshop started with a quick introduction of the Aaghaz-e-Dosti team, which was followed by an ice-breaking session.
The session began with the participants introducing themselves to the group, and sharing the name of a place that they would like to visit. This helped the participants to shed their initial inhibitions as they actively shared their dream destinations.
This was followed by a formal introduction by Devika Mittal about the aim of the workshop. She then discussed the basics of peace and conflict resolution. She asked the participants what they understand about peace. The participants did not share a concrete idea or definition but instead, shared the images that come to their mind when they think about peace that included an image of a peace activist, the color white, happiness and an environment of silence and calmness.
Ravi Nitesh then enlightened the participants about the roots of the Indo-Pak conflict; he highlighted the historical aspects and dynamics of this conflict. While initially, most participants did not have much knowledge on how the Indo-Pak conflict affects everyone. So he facilitated the participants view the whole issue from perspective different from what is portrayed in mainstream media.
Madhulika Narasimhan explained the concept of prejudice and stereotypes to the participants by alluding to real life examples for a better understanding. This was followed by a discussion on the stereotypes in the Indo-Pak context. Both Indians and Pakistanis have created a set of stereotypes. Madhulika tried to address the stereotypes that Indians have about Pakistan and Pakistanis. There were stereotypes around women, religious minorities and ethnic diversity in Pakistan and how Pakistanis think about India and Indians. She corroborated this with photographs and videos.ities and ethnic diversity in Pakistan and how Pakistanis think about India and Indians. She corroborated this with photographs and videos.
Aaghaz-e-Dosti focused on introducing the skills of communication, anger management, negotiation and mediation to the participants through the workshop. Yashika used experiential activities related to active listening and mediation in order to engage the participants better. The popular game of Chinese Whisper and Lockjam were utilized. Through this game/activity, the role of miscommunication mixed with assumptions and preconceived biases was reflected on, the role of rumors in conflict was explored. In the other activity, the participants were given a situation of conflict from a neighborhood context. They were asked to not only take into account and reflect on the different perspectives but to negotiate with the different and conflicting interests and arrive at a solution.
The underlying idea was to inculcate these skills at a micro level, so that the participants can use them in their everyday lives. In order to work towards a responsible and harmonious society, we need to initiate change at the grass roots.
The workshop was well received by the participants. Team Aaghaz-e-Dosti, through this workshop, sought to engage the youth with the importance of peace and conflict resolution not just within the self, but also in families, communities, and in the larger scale, between the countries – India and Pakistan.