In the words of a participant: “Peace Caravan was for me a transformative experience, at the inner and relational levels; but also at the levels of the different communities that we had the great opportunity to share with. At the inner level, it signified an encounter with the self through traveling, meeting other realities of life, questioning and developing awareness and knowledge by seeing these new realities through critical eyes. This experience allowed me to develop, even more, the questioning of the way I know things, how I know and what I know regarding the social dynamics of my own reality, and in my world. It was also transformative because it gave me the chance to be with myself, although being with a team all the time, to understand the way I re-act, when I am in a team.
In the relational level, the Peace Caravan also allowed me to learn from sharing with different people, from different backgrounds, with different conceptions of peace-life-space. This was extremely rich for me, a knowledge that cannot be obtained through books, theories, or research. This also included meeting and sharing with different human beings in their very contexts, in their daily life, activities and realities. In sum, Peace Caravan was a wonderful transformative experience. And I say transformative, since all these factors made me change in the way I think, act, and perceive peace and conflicts.” Susana from Mexico
Service Civil International
SCI is a volunteer organization dedicated to promoting a culture of peace by organizing international voluntary projects (mostly workcamps) for people of all ages and backgrounds. The organisation consists of 44 branches and an ever-growing number of partner organisations. SCI was one of the first organizations to divest itself of all political and religious affiliations in its work promoting peace and intercultural understanding through practical action. Throughout the years (since 1920) SCI has made a major contribution to the development of the main forms of volunteering.
Year after year, the organisation enables thousands of volunteers to participate in community projects. Living and working together with people of different backgrounds helps volunteers to break down barriers and prejudices. It allows them to experience a world of mutual respect and understanding. In this sense, volunteering can be seen as a way of life – a demonstration of the possible reality of a peaceful and cooperative world.
Peace Messengers are volunteers who contribute to build and promote a culture of peace, by organising peace education sessions in workcamps. This connects camp experiences to SCI’s identity as a peace organisation. The mission of the peace messengers is to promote peace and intercultural understanding and empower people to implement and promote pacifist values in their lives.
No More War
The NMW team started its activities in 2010, which was the year of the 90th anniversary of SCI. As SCI was founded after the First World War with the aim to create space for reconciliation and peaceful co-operation after years of violent conflicts, the NMW campaign aims at uncovering forms of violence in our societies today, and promoting non-violence, peace and anti-militarism. The team supports international voluntary projects with a clear statement against the ideology of war (NMW workcamps) and trains the camp coordinators of these projects. Additionally the team organizes trainings, seminars and study sessions on e.g. non-violent street actions and online campaigning for peace.
The idea, the main topics and methods of the Peace Caravan
The Peace Caravan was first mentioned by a participant during a NMW seminar on conflict resolution in Autumn, 2010 in Albania. The NMW team took up the idea and designed a first draft, which was revised over many rounds of feedback; gathered from participants in NMW projects and from SCI branches and working groups. In this way many voices were included and the full project was designed at a grassroots level of the whole SCI movement.
The NMW team, by implementing this project, mainly followed the goal to help people understand that a pacifist world is possible, by training the participants of the Peace Caravan – and in a preparation seminar also some of the volunteers and staff of hosting branches. Giving them space and support to implement the learned knowledge and tools the NMW team aimed at empowering them to promote peace, anti- militarism, intercultural dialogue and non-violence. The methods to reach this goal should be Non-Formal/Peace Education.
Non-formal education is a methodology different from the methods we know from our education system (school, university, etc.). It follows an inclusive approach – aiming to actively involve the participants, rather than using frontal teaching methods. Examples are simulation games, role-plays, !! 5 theatre and (silent) discussions. In this way participants don’t only listen to the trainer/facilitator, but also listen to each other’s experiences and learn from each other, through Peer education.
SCI uses this methodology for peace education, which, within SCI was defined as learning bout, and for peace. Learning about peace means obtaining knowledge and understanding of what contributes to peace, what damages it, what leads to war, what does peace mean on each level anyway, what is my role in it, and how are the different levels connected? Learning for peace means learning the skills, attitudes and values that one needs in order to contribute to peace and help maintain it. For example, this means learning non-violent conflict-resolution, learning to think creatively, learning to apply the methods of active non-violence or learning to deal with cultural differences in a constructive way.
SCI as a peace movement organizes many international projects every year, which are connected by the aim, the methods and the volunteers exchanged between branches and partners. The NMW campaign with the PC wishes to connect these efforts – local to international, local to local, and directly to each other. Each branch has different focuses and practical activities, and by connecting them on this topic the NMW team gave them the space to learn from each other and inspire each other. The branches were – based on this idea – also given the freedom to choose the exact methods implemented during the stay of the PC (workshops in schools, workshops in workcamps, street actions, etc.) within the wide range of non- formal education methods, and connect the topic of peace to the topic of their expertise or of local importance (ecological sustainability, refugees, minorities, etc.). All of these topics in the understanding of SCI create borders/challenges for peace and as the volunteers were also crossing many national borders on their way creating peace, the project was named “NO BORDERS FOR PEACE”
You can read the complete report here