By Shannon Reid
Global Peace Foundation, together with Co-operation Ireland, will host international leaders of education, faith, government, and civil society in a four-day peace learning program in Belfast, Northern Ireland from February 24-27, 2020. Professional facilitators from both organizations will guide participants through engaged discussion, rich cultural exposure and tactile experiential learning. This hands-on and interactive approach will equip attendees with transferable peace-building methods as well as encourage a “round table” contribution of ideas and effective practices participants have implemented in their own country or community.
Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, was the epicenter of street violence during the historical sectarian hostility known as “The Troubles.” More than 3,600 people died as a result of the conflict, and just under half of those casualties were within the city. Visible scars still remain, such as the iconic “peace walls” originally built to divide Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods. Now a harmonious and bustling economic hub, participants will get to experience the friendly, lively, and deep culture of Belfast firsthand. An educational tour and local storytelling at various sites throughout the city will build historical context to past and present efforts of unity.
Participants will then be able to use the intricate case study of Northern Ireland to analyze various peace-building methods and apply them to current events. Pertinent topics like the role of technology and media in conflict resolution will be visited during the presentations and discussions. Intrinsic to the experience and program is allotted time, group work, and activities that allow like-minded individuals from all facets of life to connect. Throughout the program, participants will build a network of continued mentorship and collaboration with individuals and organizations that are actively promoting reconciliation and cross-community engagement around the world.