And “Learning to Live Together” at the International Round of the World Council of Churches
By Ofelia Ortega.
This March, preparations began for the International Ecumenical Round for Peace in Jamaica, organized by the World Council of Churches (WCC). Part of these preparations involved promoting the direct participation of children in the Round, with support and encouragement from Marta Palma, GNRC coordinator for Europe, and the Christian Institute for Gender Studies in Cuba.
The first step was the creation of an Optional Course called Toward a Culture of Peace, at the Evangelical Theology Seminar in Matanzas, Cuba. Five students registered. The course used Arigatou Foundation/GNRC Learning to Live Together Manual as the base text, and its methodology organized in two modules.
Students that registered for the course had to prepare three workshops in Cuba, which would serve as preparation for the workshops that would be held in Jamaica. The topics were: Peace with the Earth, Peace in Our Relationships with Others, and Search for Non-violent Alternatives in our Relationships. The workshops were held at the Matanzas Community Cultural Center, with participation of 60 children and teenagers, 20 parents and 10 observers from the community. We made three videos of the workshops.
Two of the students that worked on the workshops travelled to Jamaica with me to reproduce them at the Round. We took the videos of the Cuban children, and implemented the three workshops in Jamaica with participation of 35 children and adolescents at each workshop and 10 teachers, mothers and observers.
The children made pictures of peace, which were then exhibited in a space where they were visible to event participants. In coordination with Yanike Hanson, director of choirs, and a student of our Matanzas seminar, we organized a children and adolescent choir, who sang at three of the plenary sessions at the event. It was called the Choir of the Global Network of Religions for Children. Sixty voices offered songs for peace, both in Spanish and English.
It was a unique experience and the Learning to Live Together material helped us enormously to communicate the importance of children’s participation in the construction of a culture of peace.
See more in Spanish: /news/es_ES/2011/06/14/0001/cuba-y-jamaica-la-sabiduria-de-sus-ninos
Photo credit: WCC/Peter Williams