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Sustained Dialogue is a Public Peace Process

- posted by GPF Social Media at Saturday, July 19, 2014

By: Erin Worden
Research Intern for the Global Peace Foundation
Denison University, Class of 2017

The inbox of a typical undergraduate piles with countless emails each day. For me, it only took one message to change everything.

This past fall, I received an email from Annie, a very intelligent and admirable acquaintance of my awkward, overzealous freshman self. At the time, Annie was president of my university’s chapter of the Sustained Dialogue Campus Network (SDCN) – an initiative backed by the International Institute for Sustained Dialogue (IISD), a Global Peace Foundation (GPF) partner. Annie explained that the campus organization – known colloquially as “SD” – assembles small groups of diverse participants throughout the semester to identify areas of campus conflict, share relevant experiences and ideas, and ultimately work together to find solutions that foster a more inclusive and aware community. She encouraged me to consider participating, and the rest was history.

Dialogue, as I soon discovered, is an instrument of peace. 

It is more than a casual conversation. Dialogue – much like the Global Peace Foundation’s mission – thrives on the level of ideas. Sharing specific experiences, sentiments, and thoughts allows dialogue participants to identify the underlying essence of a conflict, which almost always involves answering the question, “Why?” Global Peace Foundation offers innovative approaches to fostering interreligious cooperation. This photo was taken from a recent Interfaith Youth Leaders Retreat series seeking to mitigate religious violence in northern Nigeria.

Dialogue groups often conclude that concrete on-campus conflicts are grounded in more conceptual issues, such as a fear of being vulnerable, a collective breach of respect, and an unwillingness to empathize.

Under intimate and trust-building conditions, group dynamics begin to shift. I have experienced that the collection of acquaintances gathered at the beginning of the semester becomes a group of friends, entrusted with each other’s most guarded thoughts and experiences.

Harold Saunders – architect of the Sustained Dialogue process and former U.S. statesman crucial in negotiating Arab-Israeli peace in the 1980s – believes in these bonds. In an informational video released by SDCN, Saunders said, “Relationships change if you bring people back together over and over again through a discernible pattern of evolution.” The importance and power of these encounters was recently featured in a GPF USA and Cooperation Ireland forum outlining Irish approaches to peace; the forum concludes these very relationships are the essence of peacebuilding.

With the relationships built and the root of conflict identified, group participants translate their ideas into positive, sustainable action within the conflict community. Campus solutions born from Sustained Dialogue groups can include the creation of organizations dedicated to ethnically underrepresented students, a call for reforms to handicap accessibility policies, or a commitment to expand the dialogue to the broader campus community.

Dialogue reminds me that all people share a common humanity, a shared vision of the world encapsulated by GPF’s “One Family under God” principle.
Sustained Dialogue is a public peace process. It changes communities for the better.

Perhaps the greatest lesson I have learned this year involves the transcendence of the human experience. Dialogue reminds me that all people share a common humanity, a shared vision of the world encapsulated by GPF’s “One Family under God” principle.

Engaging with members of the human race – especially across the fault lines of conflict that limit and antagonize interaction – in meaningful, sustained dialogues not only alters perceptions and understandings but also fundamentally changes global conduct.

For example, a faith-based peace council similar to the model proposed at the 2013 Global Peace Convention has the potential to impact global interactions between religious groups by providing a public platform for sustained dialogues. According to the Pew Research Center, roughly 84 percent of people worldwide claim some form of religious identity, which has often contributed to global conflict. To address these and other identity-based conflicts – including ones that hinder development – GPF encourages religious leaders to engage in articulating universally accepted principles to build consensus around shared values. These dialogues between the moral authorities of faith communities can create openings for new relationships and understandings.

Sustained Dialogue is a public peace process. It changes communities for the better.

While formal settings for dialogues are crucial for securing peace, there is always a more personal opportunity for dialogue. Each person – as a member of direct families and a more global kin – has the responsibility and opportunity to engage in thoughtful dialogue with those around them. A vision of the world living as one family is one where all strives toward – and succeeds in – achieving peace.

Erin Worden is a Pittsburgh-native and rising sophomore at Denison University in Granville, Ohio, where she is a double major in English Literature and International Studies. Erin’s area of academic concentration focuses on the identity negotiation of populations within conflict zones. She serves as a moderator and Leadership Team member for her campus’s chapter of the Sustained Dialogue Campus Network, as well as contributing to the Denison Community Association as the Events Captain. Outside of her academic life, Erin enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, tinkering with the Adobe Creative Suite, and eating Thai food.


For Articles Related to GPF's recent Interfaith Activities:

GPF Nigeria's Interreligious Youth Leadership Retreats:

International Multifaith Youth Assembly in Indonesia:

Masayoshi's Birthday

- posted by GPF Social Media at Monday, October 21, 2013

These days many of us are all about getting the latest and greatest games, the biggest toys and the newest and coolest designer clothes. However, countering the growing societal trend of consumerism and materialism, there is a growing trend of giving back.

There are many organizations that focus on giving back, but there is one that I find particularly interesting, the Power of Ten Sen.

The Power of Ten Sen started in Malaysia to empower youth to give back.  It shows youth and communities that anything is possible when you “dream big and start small.”  It's heartwarming to see youth being introduced to the idea of loving those around them and taking ownership and investing in the future of the world. It reminds me of my nephews and nieces.

My oldest nephew just turned 6 in July.  Although he only started first grade this fall, he has an incredible desire to give back and a passion to help others. I remember for his fourth birthday party, my sister wrote on the invitations, “Instead of a gift, please bring along some gently used books to donate to a Dream Catcher library in Masayoshi’s name.” 

At first I was perplexed and a little frustrated.  I found myself thinking, “How silly to tell people to not bring gifts.”  I continued to ponder and got more aggravated.  I thought, “He is only four.  He should be getting gifts and just enjoy being a kid.  Why are you trying to push your own agenda on him?  At his birthday of all things?!” 

The day of the birthday party rolled around.  I put my feelings aside and simply enjoyed the blessing time with friends and family.  When gift opening time came around, I would never have expected what happened next.

He receive some cool gifts, but Masayoshi was excited about the books he was going to give to other kids.  Masa loves to read and the idea of sharing this joy with kids who didn’t have books like he did, made him smile from ear to ear.  In his words, “I’m so happy my eyes are shining.”

That moment reminded me of the beauty and joy of giving.  My four year old nephew (at the time) showed me that it’s not all about what we get but what we can give.  Gifts are nice, but the feeling of happiness and fulfillment we get from loving others is the greatest gift of all.

Masa’s birthday showed me that it is our responsibility to serve and love not only those around us, but to pass this culture of service and giving to the next generation. The joy that I see him experience from giving to others never ceases to amaze me.  He dressed up like a chicken at the Global Peace Youth Festival and collected donations for solar lamps.  He also does chores in exchange for money to buy solar powered lamps for the Alllights Village Project.

While he may only be six, his ability to love others inspires me. And while he doesn’t know it, Masa showed me on his fourth birthday, like the Power of Ten Sens teaches, we must “Dream Big and Start Small.” He showed me, that you are never too small to make a difference. He also reminded me how blessed our family is and we must now share our blessings with the rest of our human family.


written by Milei Ikeno



Friends Before Competitors

- posted by GPF Social Media at Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The players played hard, sweat, smiled, lost and won during Midnight Football’s most recent indoor soccer tournament. The games were intense, but at the start of each game, players shook hands and embraced. For them, their opponents were friends first and competition second.

At the end of the long day of matches, when the winning teams were presented their award, everyone cheered. Players were also recognized for outstanding character and sportsmanship.   At the end of the day the real prize was not the trophy of the winning team, it was the character and camaraderie that each player gained. The support and genuine pride each player had for their friends was obvious. 

Since its inception, Midnight Football has set out to provide a positive outlet for youth. Through football (soccer) they have instilled important life skills like teamwork, communication, hard work, and sportsmanship.  The real showcase during the tournament was the display of these qualities and values. 

Coach Okoshi Elijah Finbar commented on the 3rd session's technical improvement, but noted that most impressive was that the players now have confidence.  He said, “They believe in themselves. “ For teens who have been branded, “at risk,” confidence in themselves is a big thing.

Coach Mohamad Ishak bin Kunju Mohamad, commented that winning and losing is just a part of playing football. Important, he said, are the qualities and character skills that players gain when they show up and do their best.

Through competition and sports, these teens are being taught much more than the joys of winning for themselves. They are learning the beauty and fulfillment of investing in each other, working hard and aiming high for not just their personal gain but for team goals. 

The third session of Midnight Football has evolved from a group of strangers, to team mates, to friends.  As their relationships and characters blossom they show a glimpse of how the world is meant to be one family, no matter what makes us different.

Jong Ho says Thank You

- posted by GPF Social Media at Tuesday, September 24, 2013

During their recent trip to the United States, for the International Youth Leadership Assembly, the GPYC Korea delegation had the opportunity to visit the Korean War Memorial as well as spend time with a group of Korean War veterans.

As articulated in a post written during the ILYA convention, the Korean War Memorial as well as the time that GPYC spent with the group of veterans, was much more than just a routine tourist stop.  For the Korean delegation it was a chance to connect and “[see] the faces and names of the soldiers who flew to an unknown land to defend the freedom of people they'd just begun to know about.”

Although language, culture and an ocean normally lie between Koreans and Americans, the gestures of gratitude displayed during the visit rang louder than any difference or divide. Youth delegate, Jong Ho Kim’s actions spoke on behalf of the hearts of many Koreans, who are eternally grateful for the sacrifice of the brave men and women who served on their behalf.

In Korean, he quietly requested to be allowed to show his gratitude to the veterans. As he was given the okay, he stood in front of the brave soldiers and offered a full bow.  Although a full bow may seem like a simple and insignificant gesture, in Korean culture as well as other Asian cultures, a full bow is a sign of utmost respect and humility. 

As Korea stands in stalemate with its neighbor and family to the North, all Korean men are to serve a mandatory 2 years within the service at the age of 18.  With a common sense of military service and with a heart of gratitude he slowly rose from his full bow.  As he rose to his feet Jong Ho then called out and raised his hand in salute.  He stood motionless, as each of the veterans slowly raised their hands and lowered them in response to his call.  Until each veteran lowered his hand, he solemnly and gratefully saluted the veterans.

Without a direct exchange of words, the “thank you” was conveyed.  No words were necessary to feel the emotion and deep sense of gratitude.  A generation separates Jong Ho from these former service men, but in that moment, his heart brought them together.

Some other articles about the work and efforts of GPYC Korea include:

-GPYC Korea attends the University Scholars Leaders Symposium "Share the Moment Share Life"

Service in Exchange for a Better me and a Better Tomorrow

-The Next Generation Committing to Mending the Wounds on the Korean Peninsula

Tweet from Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Mobilizes Thousands of Volunteers

- posted by GPF Social Media at Wednesday, September 18, 2013

DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman used her twitter account to find volunteers.

In the wake of torrential rains and typhoons throughout the Philippines, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in partnership with the National Resource Operations Center (NROC), called on citizens to aid their fellow Filipinos. 

To meet the growing demand for relief packages, DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman turned to social media to find volunteers.

On her personal twitter account she tweeted, “VOLUNTEERS! NROC needs you! Pls call 851-2681 / 511-1259 #reliefPH #rescuePH please share MAP ->”  Her call for volunteers was retweeted 109 time and the news also spread quickly across other social media outlets. Thousands of volunteers flocked to the NROC to help repack food and other relief goods.

Global Peace Youth Corps Philippines joined thousands of volunteers

On August 24thGlobal Peace Youth Corps Philippines joined thousands of volunteers.  5,179 volunteers packed 116,202 family food packs and 2,884 non-food relief items. 

Tweet from DSWD Secretary mobilizes thousands of volunteers.

Volunteers stood on their feet for hours, but they felt a sense of accomplishment, as each pack brings a small level of comfort and relief to families affected by the major storm.  DSWD Secretary Soliman commented that from August 20th to the 25th, the volunteer turnout was amazing. It was a display of true Filipino character. 

Voiunteers responded to DSWD Secretary's tweet for aid

Global Peace Foundation

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One Family Under God

The Global Peace Foundation is building a global network of grassroots leaders to develop community, national, and regional peace-building models as the foundation for ethical, cohesive, and compassionate societies, guided by the vision of One Family under God.

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