“The first step of real peace is to know the other side, its culture and creativity.”
Mahmoud Darwish – Palestine’s national poet
The World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development is on the 21st of May, 2017 and for celebrating this, UNESCO MGIEP organized eight Ask Me Anything sessions by leading experts on its Knowledge Commons platform. The Campus Ambassadors participated in this by asking relevant questions on topics related to mindfulness, mindfulness based stress reduction, mindfulness and curriculum, intercultural dialogue, global citizenship, etc. The answers to our questions and those asked by the other participants not only equipped us on how to face contemporary challenges but also helped us in developing deeper insights into today’s problems.
I feel that I need to be more educated and informed about the society in which I live. I often have questions such as “How can I look deeper into cultures other than my own? Do we share common roots? What divides us? What unites us? What are the essential reasons of discord? Why do some conflicts get resolved and why do some of them linger on? If humanity has moved ahead in some areas, why have we fallen behind in other areas?” Intercultural dialogue and education for peace thrive at the centre of these questions. I was always scared to discuss these topics or issues related to these topics on an online platform. Knowledge Commons has effectively solved that problem. It gives me a safe platform to discuss and have a debate on critical issues which would not have been in discussion otherwise. Peace could mean different things for different people. To me peace is relative. What may be a peaceful situation for me may not be a peaceful situation for someone else. Peace is the fostering of a deeper understanding of each other’s anxieties, apprehensions, and insecurities. Thus, in a society which is divided on many fault lines – cultural, racial and religious, humility towards one another if not respect is what I call peace. Thus, open-ended dialogue is an important step in peacebuilding.
The Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions on UNESCO MGIEP’s Knowledge Commons platform have deepened my understanding on a plethora of topics. The platform allows participants from very diverse backgrounds to interact with subject experts from around the world and in this way, also interact with each other. The AMA sessions and the Knowledge Commons platform thus, not only provide a safe virtual space for the discussion and debate of contentious topics but also allow for a virtual intercultural dialogue of sorts. Dialogue is the first step in building the framework for Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (EPSD) and sustainable peace can only be achieved and promoted via dialogue, debate and communication aimed at deepening understanding if not affection or admiration for each other. Only then can we bury the past and move forward together. Thus, this intervention was an important step towards cultivating intercultural dialogue competencies.
UNESCO MGIEP & SSIS Campus Ambassador