November 03, 2016, 3:13 PM
The URI Traveling Peace Academy (TPA) gathers interfaith peacebuilders together for training, skill building, discussion, study, and networking, so that they can work more effectively in their communities around the world. The 2016 TPA took place in India and gathered together an impressive group from URI Cooperation Circles worldwide to learn and grow from their time together.
See a collection of news stories, in print, featuring work from the TPA, here.
"I said in one session of the recent TPA that excellent students make excellent teachers. The participants that we got for the 2016 TPA were a class in themselves -- ardent peace lovers and exemplary learners."
- Dr. Abraham Karickam, URI South India Regional Coordinator
TPA participants blessing the foundation stone for an Interfaith Centre at Meenpidippara, Kottarakkara. Learn more here.
Read a reflection from Raksha Kothari, yoga teacher for the TPA, here.
The following is a personal reflection by Jane Abdul, a TPA participant from the Philippines:
16-21 SEPTEMBER, 2016
URI Project in the Moral Imagination Approach to Peacebuilding came into being because of the expressed needs of URI Cooperation Circles - leaders deeply involved in peacebuilding work. Inspired by the book, Moral Imagination, the Art and Soul Of Peace Building.
The Moral Imagination approach to building peace captured the enthusiasm of people dedicated to peacebuilding within URI because it reflected experiences of authentic peacebuilding activities; and, affirmed the value of this kind of effort for the entire URI global community. John Paul Lederach and Dr. Herm Weaver, educator and musician (respectively) served as the primary consultants.
Dr. Abraham Karickam, URI South India Regional Coordinator, shares a testimony of URI's powers of reconciliation. Learn more here.
I really appreciate the methodology, the strategy and tools for conflict analysis, peer learning and co-mentoring sessions. Most of all the learnings on the importance of strategic networking to support our work focusing on creating a web as the beginning.
Dr. Abraham Karickam sharing how peacebuilding is like a spiderweb
Learning about these people and their stories felt like discovering new things about myself.
I’m committed to continuing to be a peace builder/peace multiplier and share what I have learned from this training.
At the URI Asia Peace Award panel
To the peace-loving people from around the world, my co-participants in the TPA training:
I can never thank you enough but offer my fervent prayer: may Allah bless all of us with good health, happiness and prosperity in life. This is an experience of a lifetime. It was a life-changing moment that I shall treasure forever in my heart. No exact words can contain and describe how grateful am I for inviting me and bringing me to this exciting, wonderful, amazing, incredible land of Mahatma Gandhi, the offspring of great poets, philosophers and social thinkers which are among the sources of my daily inspirations.
First order of the day was the Yoga session, which I consider and recommend as a very valuable tool in any peace training program to start the day. The steps were so simple - yet emerging oneself in the process is a process itself, a challenge. I guess, one of the most memorable is the mantras- chanting is still lingering my mind when I wake up every morning. The sounds still vibrate and penetrate deep in the mind. Getting focus helps me attain synchronicity of breathing and body movements and started enjoying the process all the way. It was just like a lullaby to mind. In every session, I felt the emerging of energy coming in during the process which made me ready for the day’s activity.
Subhi Dhupar, Regional Coordinator, India, North Zone, with Sally Mahé, Director of Global Programs and Organizational Development. Read Sally's reflections on TPA and friendship here.
Furthermore, I believe that when you learn to listen to your body and learn to consciously respond to it, it’s only then that you can start to tap into a place to find peace, harmony and joy. Our body is an amazing vessel for communication that constantly sending signals and fosters a mindset of positive change.
We took part in the silent Morning Walks, then Morning Pages where we spent time writing, tapping own awareness, listening to our inner voice and nature's sounds. Writing Morning Pages reconnected me back to myself during childhood days, the love of poems which never been revealed nor practiced and manifested the “makata, poet” within me sometimes during the course of the training. The well-spring of feelings, thoughts once in my childhood rose up.
The musical instruments and peace songs lead by Matthew Cobb enlivened the group and the rest of the cultural troupes that serenaded us on cultural nights and the movie escapade as well we’re all fascinating experiences.
TPA participants discussing peace, including Alice Swett, URI Associate Director of Global Programs for Network Development (seated in back in orange shirt), who wrote reflections on her TPA experience you can read here.
As implied in the name of the Traveling Peace Academy, we were always on the move. We experienced of the rhythm of the airwaves of the Arabian Sea, Bengal Gulf and Indian Ocean, the windy Thrivalluvar statue in Kanyakumari. Earlier, we had merged with nature as we joined the team in the inauguration of the Global Rights of the River and joined in a Peace Procession through the town in commemoration of the International Day of Peace with the KIPS pupils.
The airwaves led us all the way to the forest in the Palaruvi waterfalls, along with a memorable poetry writing session. The island tour and boating in the back waters of Kerala and attend the lesson on the “Spider Web”.
Some of the lesson learned were: Nothing in the universe exists as an independent object, the centrality in human existence, peacebuilders must envision, feel and experience the web of relationships. The key is finding the soul of peace - the Hub.
The pattern expresses simplicity on the other side of complexity which is the moral imagination. The art of peacebuilding lies in what we look for and what we bring into focus. The solutions emerge from the relational spaces, connections and obligations. There was the web-relationships that we started to build among one another in the training as peacebuilders from around the globe. It requires deep commitment to innovation and flexibility.
I am strongly convinced that TPA training is a challenging space for all of us. We are invited to engage road maps to reinvent oneself that may eventually leads to enlightenment. TPA offers visionary tools that are relevant and actionable. The transformation takes time, it’s a process.
It is a workshop that is like a wrapped-up box. It enables us to obtain fresh perspectives and deep insights. We are in an unwrapping process, the process of discovery that unfolds as we play, fresh, fun and innovative coaching.
The mentoring process of transformation has been a great tool for helping people break through barriers related to decision making, critical thinking, and tolerance. It opens conversation wider and deeper to expand one's thinking, to help us explore what is said and that which could remain.
It is an experiential learning - interactive methods make this course engaging and reflect the inspiring nature of John Paul Lederach innovative tools.
My experience in TPA has totally enriched and changed my perspectives. I am totally amazed by the preservation of environment by the people around in Kerala, real a Khilafa-Caretakers of the Mother Earth. I always treasure the time and bring home the beautiful story of the place, culture and the hospitality that we enjoyed during the stay. It’s Incredible India. My life is raised to another level.
I find that the four qualities or virtues described by JPL in this Moral Imagination training are tools for transformation that I want to explore. They are: the Web of Relationships, Curiosity/Thinking, Creativity, and the Willingness to Take the Risk. These qualities I wish to envision in my daily endeavors as a peace builder and in my community development work as I take my journey to peace.
The Web of relationship that has been started and developed from TPA is just a beginning.
Looking forward to joining you in the future TPA trainings.
Jane Usop Abdul, RN.MAPD
Dr. Abraham Karickam, URI South India Regional Coordinator, sharing wisdom with TPA participants.
TPA participants share their video of a parade promoting peace: