| Jun 30, 2014
On the way of creating peaceful minds
In the 1980s a group of Jewish scholars and teachers were concerned about the growing hostility towards democratic values and growing ethnocentrism in the Jewish society. They had already recorded long time ago the failure of the education system in the area of peace and democracy. These factors, as well as the murder of a peaceful activist in 1985 during the protest against the war in Lebanon became stimuli for this group of teachers and scholars, who are devoted to the principles of democracy, to establish the Adam Institute for Democracy and Peace in Israel. It was meant for playing an active role in bringing up reforms in political and peace building sciences.
The founders believed that the education programs in democracy and peace should include and address the conflicts and values in the society. Based on this notion the institute program was developed which contained a completely different approach - a system of experience based / practice oriented methods. The educational program created by interested people was named Betzavta (Togetherness).
Following the logic, we decided to organize a training in our city and give an opportunity to our participants to measure how democratic and peace-minded they are. On April 19, 2014, seventeen young people from Vanadzor took part in the first training course based on this methodology at Peace Dialogue NGO. The training course aimed at creating controversies and alternative situations on equality and freedom, the principles of democracy, the majority and minority issues. The participants who shared the same cultural values, when put in difficult situations, were to try to find non-formal ways of cooperation and to identify their own behaviors.
The peculiarity of the training was that it created a platform for the participants to measure the degree of respect and importance towards democracy, as well as the capacity in cooperation and willingness in the peaceful resolution of conflicts. The method was quite interesting and powerful for the participants. One of the participants mentioned: “Despite that fact that we consider ourselves democratic and it seems like all our actions are driven by that principle, however, during the activities very often it became clear that in our daily life and in similar situations we pay little attention to our behavior and perceptions, and their connection with the democratic principles.”
Now we are working on preparation of a workshop related to the topics about stereotypes, gender based issues and cultural violation. Young women from all over Armenia will be involved in the process. As we mentioned in our project description, there would be no achievement of peace in the region without reducing or in a better way- overcoming indifference, taboos and culture- based violence within the societies. In our socio-cultural context it’s very important to work especially with young women who are the most suffered part of the society bearing on their shoulders the most heavy part of cultural violence.
Once again we want to say great thanks to those people who supported us and gave us an opportunity to extend our work in a hard process of peace-creation.